Discourses of Charisma: Barack Obama’s First 6 Months as the President of the USA
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This study aims to investigate discourses of the charisma of Barack Obama in articles in a leading Finnish newspaper during the first 6 months of his presidency. The results show that the media created a very enthusiastic atmosphere around Obama. His charisma was built up mostly around his person, with the emphasis on an exceptional personality, life story and behaviour. In addition, the various crises that arose were used to reinforce the picture of Obama as charismatic. The findings undermine the idea of a single form of charismatic leadership and provide empirical support for the framework put forward by Steyrer (Organizational Studies 19(5), 807–828, 1998), that various types of charismatic leadership exist: In this study paternalistic, heroic, missionary and majestic are identified. The study contributes to Steyrer’s framework by showing that certain types of charisma occur in different social contexts. The results also suggest that ethics is constructed as a crucial part of charismatic leadership, but the construction of Obama’s charisma in contrast to others raises ethical concerns.
KeywordsCharisma Charismatic leadership Ethics Barack Obama Discourse analysis Media Social constructionism
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