The Carnivalesque in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign

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The 2016 U.S. general election saw the emergence of a nonpolitician celebrity, Donald Trump, who frequently challenged existing power structures and figures. Trump's electoral win combined with reports of violence at campaign rallies, calls for removal of those in power, the ridicule of opponents, and the use of invectives and name-calling suggest parallels to Bakhtin's elucidation of the carnivalesque. The authors examined media coverage of the 2016 campaign to uncover evidence of carnivalesque references. Such references were significantly higher for Trump than for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and for the 2012 Republican campaign of Mitt Romney. The implications of presidential campaigns steeped in carnivalesque rhetoric and actions are discussed, with concerns raised regarding the future of media institutions and participatory democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPresidential Studies Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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