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Barack Obama as the Great Man: Communicative Constructions of Racial Transcendence in White-Male Elite Discourses

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This study examined responses on the potential impact of Barack Obama's presidency from 16 semi-structured interviews with White males in leadership positions in various organizations across the United States. While numerous studies examine the circulating racial discourses on Obama, few studies explore how he is represented in first-hand accounts from those in the public, specifically from White-male elites. This study examined interview discourses from White-male elites to reveal how they imagine race through Obama. In positioning Obama among the pantheon of great-man leaders, this study showed how dominant racial ideologies get legitimatized and reworked when members of the dominant group desire to construct racial meanings onto a popular Black leader.

Keywords: Barack Obama; Great-Man Theory; Race Transcendence; White-Male Elite Discourse

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2011.618140

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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