The United States of Trump Corp.: The ‘Not Normal/New Normal' Governing Style of a Personal Brand

  • Steven Alfonso Panageotou Arkansas State University
  • Joel M. Crombez
Keywords: Donald J. Trump, Governance, Narcissism, Ethno-Nationalism, Populism, Authoritarianism, Fascism, Neoliberalism, Personal Brand, Corporate Brand, Symbolic Capital


Mired in inconsistency, contradiction, and scandal, Donald J. Trump's presidency appears to be anything but normal. This has prompted a great deal of searching among social scientists and journalists to understand what exactly is behind Trump's erratic governing style. These narratives center the new normal of American presidential politics on the extreme form of Trump's narcissistic behavior and his flagrant commitment to ethno-nationalist, authoritarian, and neoliberal practices. However, because these narratives rely on traditional political strategies and theories, they do not fully capture the most novel aspects of the Trump mode of governance. What is "not normal" about President Donald Trump is that his governing style is irreducible to conventional statecraft and political goals because Trump is not just a celebrity/businessman-turned-politician. Rather, Trump the person is inherently tied to Trump the personal brand, and the governing style of President Trump follows the market-oriented logic of personal brands, which is primarily oriented towards maximizing symbolic capital. Rather than position Trump's governing style as motivated to achieve self-adulation, white supremacy, an authoritarian state, or neoliberal utopia, we reconsider Trump's governing style as an attempt to capture the attention of the collective consciousness and focus it on Trump as a personal brand.

Author Biographies

Steven Alfonso Panageotou, Arkansas State University

Steven Panageotou specializes in political economy and critical social theory. He researches the tension between democratic politics and capitalist economics in the United States, Greece, and Latin America. While he conducted the research for this article as an Assistant Professor at Arkansas State University, Steven will be an Assistant Professor of Political Economy at the College of Idaho in the Fall of 2020. He can be contacted at 

Joel M. Crombez

Joel M. Crombez is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University. He works in critical, social, and psychoanalytic theory at the intersection of political economy, technology, and mental health. Currently, he is finishing a book manuscript for Brill on anxiety, the critical method, and modern society, as a theoretical and methodological foundation for the practice of critical socioanalysis. 



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