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Pomp and power, performers and politicians: The California theatre state

Pomp and power, performers and politicians: The California theatre state The year 2013 marks the 10th year anniversary of the California gubernatorial recall election that replaced Grey Davis with Arnold Schwarzenegger and reinvigorated debates about celebrity politics in the United States. While critics argue that politics has become about entertainment, rather than statecraft, this article challenges the notion that performance can be separated from politics. Instead, symbolic action is a central feature of political processes. Specifically, the cosmology of the state dictates the animating centers of society, within which politicians must perform for the sake of reanimating the myths and reconstituting the people. Using case studies of the initial gubernatorial campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this article highlights the elements of California's sustaining mythology and the various ways in which it defines political behavior. The results highlight two constants across the campaigns: the invocation of crisis and the rendering of candidates as heroes. These components enable the successful – if dramatic – transfer of power. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Journal of Cultural Sociology Springer Journals

Pomp and power, performers and politicians: The California theatre state

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd
Subject
Social Sciences; Social Sciences, general; Sociology, general; Sociology of Culture; Media Sociology
ISSN
2049-7113
eISSN
2049-7121
DOI
10.1057/ajcs.2012.9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The year 2013 marks the 10th year anniversary of the California gubernatorial recall election that replaced Grey Davis with Arnold Schwarzenegger and reinvigorated debates about celebrity politics in the United States. While critics argue that politics has become about entertainment, rather than statecraft, this article challenges the notion that performance can be separated from politics. Instead, symbolic action is a central feature of political processes. Specifically, the cosmology of the state dictates the animating centers of society, within which politicians must perform for the sake of reanimating the myths and reconstituting the people. Using case studies of the initial gubernatorial campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this article highlights the elements of California's sustaining mythology and the various ways in which it defines political behavior. The results highlight two constants across the campaigns: the invocation of crisis and the rendering of candidates as heroes. These components enable the successful – if dramatic – transfer of power.

Journal

American Journal of Cultural SociologySpringer Journals

Published: Feb 12, 2013

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