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The Politics of Fragile Knowledge Structures: Donald Trump and the Problem of Reality

Taking the controversy over the weather and audience size during Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president as a starting point, the article firstly examines how Trump’s rhetorical and communicative practices affect what sociologists call “lifeworld” or “common sense” and why this, secondly, poses a threat to a liberal understanding of democracy. In consideration of this, I present and discuss the respective concepts of common sense formulated by Alfred Schütz, Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, Harold Garfinkel as well as Jürgen Habermas. According to Habermas, the dangers presented by Trump’s rhetoric to a liberal understanding of democracy become apparent, but it remains open as to why it works so well, nevertheless. To answer this question, I combine aspects of the above-mentioned approaches with more recent social diagnoses of the structural change of modernity.

In: Jahrbuch für Europäische Ethnologie