Political Persona 2016 - an Introduction

P. David Marshall, Neil Henderson


It seems politics invades everything. We can rarely think of any activity, any building, any human-to-human interaction and not see some political dimension infiltrating and shaping it. And this very interpretation, in its language of invasion and infiltration, implies that politics’ ubiquity is not necessarily a wanted accomplice in our human world. Nonetheless, its presence is expected, its strategic intentions acknowledged and negotiated.

What is interesting is that persona—at least as it has been explored and defined in Persona Studies so far—always has a political dimension. It has been identified as a strategic identity, a form of negotiation of the individual in their foray into a collective world of the social (Marshall and Barbour). Persona is a fabricated reconstruction of the individual that is used to play a role that both helps the individual navigate their presence and interactions with others and helps the collective to position the role of the individual in the social. Persona is imbued with politics at its core.

In this issue of Persona Studies, we explore political persona, a characterisation roiled in redundancy if our definitions above are adopted. The essays gathered in this collection debate these definitional affinities, and augment and nuance many other dimensions that help delineate what constitutes political persona. In this introductory essay, we will use the collected work on political persona that is developed in this issue to better define political persona. But before we evaluate and identify the intersections of our contributors’ work, we want to begin our exploration with what makes political persona constitutively different today than in the past. Can we identify through some of the most prominent political personas—Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders in the United States’ 2016 Presidential campaign, for example—and through a study of a major political event—Brexit in 2016 in the U.K.—whether something has shifted and changed in these cultures?


Persona; Politics; Trump; Clinton; Brexit;

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/ps2016vol2no2art628


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