The Cultural Dissensions of the Promised Future: Culture Wars and Barack Obama's Autobiographies

Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 12 (35):3-38 (2013)
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The article presents an interpretive view on culture wars in America along with their echoes in the autobiographical works written by Barack Obama. Being either viewed as the manifestation of the “post-American” creed, looked down at as a mere product of popular culture, or being ignored as a marginal manifestation, culture wars flared before and after the presidential campaign of 2008, signaling the intensity of a yet unconsumed ideological combustion fuelling further cultural and political dissensions. One of the conspicuous consequences of culture wars in America is that the definition of culture has been significantly altered and that nowadays culture warriors have outnumbered intellectuals. Another outcome of culture wars is that they are considered by many as a benchmark of democracy and democratization, when more probably they are the product of an ideological confrontation. Thirdly, culture wars are regarded either as a political stylization of politicization of culture setting up a new network of correspondences between culture and politics. A final relevant consequence may be found in the increasing awareness that civil society and political parties may deploy different strategies to convey democratic ideals into reality, but it remains to be clarified if this should be carried out into the trenches of a pugnacious media and from there into the beliefs and expectations of citizens. Civil society and political parties in America construed differently the meanings of democracy, providing with different images the promised future and the American creed. Therefore, while culture wars spread their belligerency in various sectors of the American society, it is harder and harder to figure out a democratic consensus



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