September 14, 2010 Sociologist Jeffrey Alexander to Discuss "Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power," Oct. 14

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

Sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will offer a new way of looking at the Democratic struggle for political power, discussing what happened and why during Barack Obama’s run for the presidency.

Alexander will discuss his book “The Performance of Politics: Obama’s Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington D.C.

Sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, the event is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are needed.

Alexander, a former distinguished visiting scholar at the Kluge Center, argues that images, emotion and performance are the central features of the battle for power. Winning depends on creating images so that candidates can become heroes. Demography, strategy, money and issues matter, but power goes to the candidate with the most persuasive performances, whose carefully constructed heroic image resonates best with the audience of citizens.

Though an untested U.S. senator, Obama’s moving performances succeeded in casting him as the hero and as the only candidate fit to lead in challenging times. Alexander sheds new light on modern politics, and also conveys the immediacy and excitement of the final months of the historic 2008 presidential campaign.

Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University. He works in the areas of theory, culture and politics, developing a meaning-centered approach to the tensions and possibilities of modern social life. Alexander is director of the Center for Cultural Sociology, also at Yale.

His recent books include “A Contemporary Introduction to Sociology: Culture and Society in Transition” (with Kenneth Thompson, 2008) and “The Civil Sphere,” (2006).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 10-204
ISSN 0731-3527