Constructivist Accounts of Political Leadership

  • Robert Elgie
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership book series (PSPL)


In this chapter, we identify constructivist accounts of political leadership. We begin by identifying the basic relationship between constructivism and the study of political leadership. We note that constructivist accounts have emerged relatively recently. Then, we identify four distinct constructivist accounts of political leadership. The first comprises performative accounts, emphasizing how leaders use language and performance to construct the sense of political leadership; the second provides a particular interpretivist account of political life that has been applied to the study of core executive politics; the third is defined by a particular subject of inquiry, namely charismatic leadership and the idea that charisma is a social construction; the fourth has been labeled critical leadership studies and is concerned with the relationship between leadership and power. We end with a critique of constructivist accounts of political leadership, highlighting the ontological and epistemological tensions within them and suggesting that the various accounts are not always commensurable with each other.


Prime Minister Social Construction Political Leadership Scientific Realist Charismatic Leadership 
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Copyright information

© Robert Elgie 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Elgie
    • 1
  1. 1.Dublin City UniversityIreland

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