Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 143–162

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


DOI: 10.1007/s11133-012-9223-7

Cite this article as:
Wingfield, A.H. & Feagin, J. Qual Sociol (2012) 35: 143. doi:10.1007/s11133-012-9223-7


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 dialecticWhite racial frameBarack ObamaCounterframe

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA