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Book description

Much of the research on institutional change shows how systems shift slowly and incrementally. Yet, in the case of former President Donald Trump, change was rapid and radical. In Institutions Under Siege, leading political sociologist John L. Campbell offers new insights for understanding the legacy of the Trump presidency. The book examines Trump's attack on the 'deep state' through the lens of institutional change theory, and demonstrates how he capitalized on tipping points and distinct leadership tactics to inspire, make deals with, and threaten people to get what he wanted. The book also assesses where the damage caused by the Trump administration is most likely to endure and where long-lasting damage was prevented. Sharp and insightful, Institutions Under Siege contrasts existing social science literature to draw attention to the unique significance of tipping points and the characteristics of particular leaders.


‘Finally, a thinking person’s guide to the damage done by the Trump presidency. Campbell makes a convincing case, grounded in high-quality evidence and innovative thinking about institutional change, that Trump undermined virtually all the key institutions of American democracy in his four norm-smashing years in the White House.’

Jacob S. Hacker - Yale University

‘Many books have been written on the Trump presidency. Some applaud this unusual president many more decry his governance and personal style. John Campbell’s thoughtful book, ‘Institutions Under Siege,’ is the first to consider the implications of Donald Trump from the perspective of institutional change. Campbell has written several excellent monographs on institutional evolution and change. In this incisive book he examines how the Trump presidency has shaped and reshaped American political institutions. In so doing Campbell offers both a fascinating account of what Trump did, and could not do, to America’s political institutions and deepens our understanding of the mechanisms of institutional change itself.’

Sven Steinmo - University of Colorado, Boulder

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