"Office" as civic virtue: the crisis of American democracy, November 3, 2020 - January 6, 2021

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

If Donald Trump had succeeded in overturning the 2020 Presidential election, American democracy would have suffered gravely destabilizing injury. What prevented this dangerous debacle was the seemingly mundane institution of office. In a democratic society, office holders take a solemn oath to rise above personal interests and to be faithful to the constitutional and "the people." Despite the highly polarized ideological environment, American judges, election officials, state legislators, and governors fulfilled their civic obligations - in the face of furious pressures to act, instead, on the basis of their partisan ideological loyalties.

About the speaker

Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University. Along with Philip Smith he is Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology (CCS). Jeffrey Alexander works in the areas of theory, culture, and politics. An exponent of the "strong program" in cultural sociology, he has investigated the cultural codes and narratives that inform diverse areas of social life.

COVID protocols

The ANU strongly encourages you to keep a mask with you at all times (for use when COVID-19 safe behaviours are not practicable) and to be respectful of colleagues, students and visitors who may wish to continue to wear one. Please continue to practice good hygiene. If you are unwell, please stay home. The ANU's COVID Safety advice can be accessed here.

This seminar presentation will be in-person only.

Image credit: Image of someone taking a selfie as the United States Capitol building is being stormed, taken by Tyler Merbler on flickr, (CCBY 2.0) licence


Date and Times


Room: Lecture Theatre 2