Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Adorno’s psychological technique: Content analyses of authoritarian populism

  • There has been a burgeoning interest in the sociology of the Frankfurt School as well as the oeuvre of Theodor W. Adorno since the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. The objectives of this study are to both illustrate the enduring importance of Adorno and to provide an important theoretical outline in making sense of Trump’s 2016 United States presidential campaign. Using Adorno’s understudied textual analysis of the radio addresses of Martin Luther Thomas and data from Trump’s 2016 US presidential campaign, we find that Trump’s own discourse can be condensed into three of Adorno’s rhetorical devices: (1) the lone wolf device or anti-statism/pseudo-conservatism, reflecting his criticism of "special interests" and his appraisal of business and (self-)finance; (2) the movement device, which amounted to glorification of action; and (3) the exactitude of error device which amounted to xenophobic, ethnonationalist hyperbole.

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Author:Timothy Haverda, Jeffrey A. Halley
Parent Title (English):TripleC
Publisher:Unified Theory of Information Research Group
Place of publication:Vienna
Contributor(s):Theodor W. Adorno
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2019
Date of first Publication:2019/07/29
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/05/04
Tag:2016 US Presidential Election; Donald Trump; Theodore W. Adorno; authoritarian populism; content analysis; critical theory
Page Number:19
First Page:202
Last Page:220
tripleC is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal (ISSN: 1726-670X). All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Austria License.
Institutes:Gesellschaftswissenschaften / Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Philosophie und Geschichtswissenschaften / Philosophie
Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Institut für Sozialforschung (IFS)
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell-Keine Bearbeitung 3.0