On the eve of the presidential inauguration, political scientist and ethnographer Justin Gest will visit St. Olaf College to offer a fresh look at the white working class constituency that helped propel Donald Trump to victory.
His January 18 lecture, sponsored by the college’s Institute for Freedom and Community, is titled Trump and the White Working Class: The Politics of a New Minority?
The event, which will be streamed and archived online, begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Sun and Gold Ballrooms in Buntrock Commons. Immediately following the lecture, leaders with the Institute-supported Sustained Dialogue Program at St. Olaf will facilitate small-group discussions. The event will conclude with a Q&A session motivated by the discussions in these small groups.
Gest’s lecture will draw from his recent book, The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality, in which he examines once-thriving white working class communities that have fallen on hard times.
Gest offers a new and potentially controversial perspective on the driving forces shaping the political activity of white working class people, and his work bears directly on questions of race, racism, and marginality in the context of Trump’s victory.
Gest is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. His teaching and research interests include comparative politics, minority political behavior, and immigration policy, and he has also published Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and Political Science.