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Trump, celebrity and the merchant imaginary


  • Barry King

    () (Auckland University of Technology)


Abstract This article explores the social ontological basis of Trumpism as a form of populism, historically defined as government by personal rule. For many commentators, the key feature of Trump’s presidency is its fundamental irrationality. The President has variously described as ‘dumb’, ‘greedy’, ‘psychotic’, a ‘narcissist’ in the grandiose mode, and an ‘egotist’ unfit for public office. This article does not aim to dissent from these kinds of conclusions but suggests that they partake more of the statement of effects or consequences rather than causes. Indeed, if they are considered as causes they lead to confusion, a kind of ‘attention-deficit disorder’ (which, ironically, some accuse the tweeting President of being a sufferer). Rather this paper suggests that a more systematic examination of the President’s persona reveals it as emerging from a conflation of the discourse of the American family and a merchant imaginary.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry King, 2018. "Trump, celebrity and the merchant imaginary," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(1), pages 1-9, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palcom:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-018-0177-6
    DOI: 10.1057/s41599-018-0177-6

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    1. repec:mes:postke:v:38:y:2015:i:3:p:477-492 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cho, Charles H. & Roberts, Robin W. & Patten, Dennis M., 2010. "The language of US corporate environmental disclosure," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 431-443, May.
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