Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 143-162

First online:

The Racial Dialectic: President Barack Obama and the White Racial Frame

  • Adia Harvey WingfieldAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Georgia State University Email author 
  • , Joe FeaginAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Texas A & M University

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This paper introduces the concept of the “racial dialectic” to describe the ways racial dialogues and policies have transformed in the wake of Barack Obama’s historic election to the presidency of the United States of America. Using public statements and behaviors from elected officials, pundits, and Obama himself as case study data, we examine the tension between what we term the hard racial frame, the soft racial frame, and the racial counterframe in the public discourses. We conclude that these competing frames produce a dialectic that has transformed the way racial issues are discussed and interpreted in the wake of Obama’s election.


Racial dialectic White racial frame Barack Obama Counterframe