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    The visual politics and policy of Donald Trump

    Hodson, Dermot (2021) The visual politics and policy of Donald Trump. Policy Studies 42 (5-6), ISSN 0144-2872.

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    Political scientists seeking to understand politics and policy-making typically start with what political actors say and do. But Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency reminds us that images also matter. Engaging with methods, concepts and theories from visual studies, this article analyses images of the 45th president produced by official photographers, photojournalists, political activists and foreign governments between 1985 and 2021. W.J.T. Mitchell’s concept of the pictorial turn, it argues, helps us to understand the importance of such images for Trump’s post-truth politics, but also anxiety about their influence. This article finds that attempts to deride, deface or destroy Trump’s charismatic, strong-man persona were never likely to succeed because, as Mitchell predicts, they reduced the president’s supporters to idolaters in thrall to the power of images. Images played a more productive role, this article finds, by debunking the president’s political falsehoods in ways that textual corrections struggled to do and by documenting his administration’s disruptive approach to policy-making in areas such as foreign affairs and immigration policy. Such images did not tell the whole truth, but they were no less successful at confronting Trump’s post-truth politics as a result.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Centre for British Political Life
    Depositing User: Dermot Hodson
    Date Deposited: 11 May 2021 14:14
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:09


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