Regional Studies - Annual Lecture 2018

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Grand Ballroom E, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Dieter Kogler
Chairs: Dieter Kogler


This presentation is the Annual Lecture for the journal Regional Studies which is owned by the Regional Studies Association (RSA). Further information about the Association and its funding activities are available from -

Prof. Amy Glasmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

From Dream to Nightmare: Shifting Regional Fortunes and the Growth of American Despair

ABSTRACT: A widely cited economic explanation for the 2016 U.S. presidential election centers on the pent-up frustration of households that lost ground in relative financial and social position visa vis their expectations and the position of others in a shifting economy. Alternative explanations for the decline in economic position include relative positional losses due to shifts of cultural power and relevance away from normative American values (in the eyes of Trump voters) to those of a globalized, urban, and educated elite that is out of touch with an ‘original’ culture. Another related consensual grievance evident among Trump voters is a sense of eroding racial superiority due to a relative change in economic position. A third perspective sees an end to the era of the American Dream upended by a worldview centered on progress, fairness, and optimism. A fourth view suggests geographic change resulting from the restructuring of society is leading away from notions of individuality toward group identity that allows and encourages people to self-sort into micro-cantons of like-minded individuals. These four perspectives are neither monolithic nor are they mutually exclusive as the American Dream was always for some, but never for everyone. Geographic context plays a critical role in explaining the relative importance of these differing worldviews and their resulting political consequences. Informed by public opinion studies, to trace the evolving geography of economic despair, we utilize multi-decadal census data in analyzing county-level voting patterns in response to regional economic performance.


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Dieter Kogler University College Dublin 20
Panelist Amy Glasmeier Massachusetts Institute of Technology 60
Discussant Christopher Fowler Pennsylvania State University 20

To access contact information login