Twin Cities Harper Lecture: The Rhetoric of Democracy Erosion: Do Politicians who Will Undermine Democracy Sound Different on the Campaign Trail?

Featuring Susan Stokes

A growing number of elected leaders come into office through democratic means but then proceed to threaten democratic institutions. In Hungary, Viktor Orban engineered a rewriting of the constitution that greatly augmented the powers of the president. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan regularly imprisons political opponents. In the United States, Donald Trump has threatened the independence of institutions such as the courts and the Federal Reserve.

The campaign statements of these politicians might represent an early-warning system that democracy could be threatened under their administrations. But on the campaign trail, do they sound any different from other, less disruptive candidates? Susan Stokes uses quantitative and qualitative analysis of candidate speeches to explore how politicians use terms of unity and division, ideas about the identities of “the people” and their enemies, and distinctive cues that elicit emotions ranging from anger and fear to enthusiasm and optimism.
harper_headshot_twin-cities-04-14-2019Featured Speaker: Susan Stokes
Susan Stokes is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and director of the Chicago Center on Democracy, which uses the power of research and discussion to support democracy worldwide. Her research interests include democratic theory, democracy in developing societies, distributive politics, and comparative political behavior, and she teaches courses on political development, political parties and democracy, comparative political behavior, and distributive politics. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Fulbright Program, American Philosophical Society, and Russell Sage Foundation. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Stokes’s coauthored book, Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism (Cambridge University Press, 2013), won best-book prizes from the comparative politics (Luebbert Prize) and comparative democratization sections of the American Political Science Association (APSA). Among her earlier books, Mandates and Democracy: Neoliberalism by Surprise in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2001) received prizes from the APSA (comparative democratization section) and the Society for Comparative Research.

Special thanks to our promotional sponsor, Global Minnesota!


Lecture Details

$10/Maroon Loyalty Society member or recent graduate (College alumni of the past 10 years and graduate alumni of the past five years)
Free for current academic year graduates and current students
Two complimentary registrations for members of the Chicago, Harper, Phoenix, and Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association philanthropic societies
Event Details:
2:00 p.m. Registration and networking
2:30 p.m. Presentation and discussion
3:30 p.m. Reception

Valet parking is available for $46 per day.
Contact alumniassociation@uchicago.edu or 773.702.2150.


2:00PM - 4:00PM Sun 14 Apr 2019 ( Timezone: Central )


W Minneapolis - The Foshay
821 Marquette Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55402 USA

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