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Type: Journal article
Title: 'Too black or not black enough': Social identity complexity in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama
Author: Augoustinos, M.
De Garis, S.
Citation: European Journal of Social Psychology, 2012; 42(5):564-577
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 0046-2772
Statement of
Martha Augoustinos and Stephanie De Garis
Abstract: <jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The election of the first African‐American President of the United States, Barack Obama, has been widely recognised as an extraordinary milestone in the history of the United States and indeed the world. With the use of a discursive psychological approach combined with central theoretical principles derived from social identity and self‐categorisation theories, this paper analyses a corpus of speeches Obama delivered during his candidacy for president to examine how he attended to and managed his social identity in his political discourse. Building on a social identity model of leadership, we examine specifically how Obama mobilises political support and social identification by building an identity for himself as a prototypical representative of the American people, notwithstanding the protracted public debate within both the White and Black American communities that had questioned and contested Obama's identity. Moreover, we demonstrate how Obama managed the dilemmas around his identity by actively crafting an in‐group identity that was oriented to an increasingly socially diverse America—a diversity that he himself exemplified and embodied as a leader. As an ‘entrepreneur’ of identity, Obama's rhetorical project was to position himself as an exceptional leader, whose very difference was represented as ‘living proof’ of the widely shared collective values that constitute the ‘American Dream’. Drawing on social identity complexity theory, we suggest that by providing more inclusive and complex categories of civic and national identity, Obama's presidency has the potential to radically transform what it means to be a prototypical in‐group member in America. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.</jats:p>
Rights: Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.1868
Published version:
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Psychology publications

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