Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Urszula Strawinska-Zanko

Abstract

This dissertation examined the public language of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to assess how they frame modern crises. Both the United States and Russia have experienced internal turmoil, social discord, political and economic instability, and international conflict since the termination of their hostilities three decades ago. Helming the presidential offices of these great powers, self-described strongmen Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin nostalgically promise to restore the lost glories of their respective countries while making mawkish appeals to tribal identities to build popular support for authoritarian tendencies and practices; preying on popular yearning for stability in a time of uncertainty. This oscillation between the past and future, occupying an uncomfortable and uncertain position, described as Metamodernism, has emerged as a response to the crises of the 21st century, magnified by the hyper-connection and subjectivities created by modern telecommunications technology. Using documentary content analysis of the public speeches and statements of Trump and Putin, this dissertation examined how the two leaders, proxies for the elites of their respective countries, framed the challenges of the Metamodern Era to advance their authoritarian political agendas. The study found that Trump represented deconstructive Metamodernism and Putin signified constructive Metamodernism; both processes to emplace an authoritarian state in either a democratic state or a fragile state. The findings in this research have implications for international relations theory, democracy research, and conflict resolution studies.

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