Identity Mediators: Leadership and Identity Construction in Campaign Speeches of American Presidential Candidates' Spouses

Ilka H. Gleibs, Kristen Hendricks, Tim Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We explore the nature and evolution of the role of candidates' spouses in U.S. presidential election campaigns through a lens of social psychological theorizing that sees leadership as emerging from activities of identity construction of leaders and followers. Our discursive analysis examines how aspiring First Lady speeches at party national conventions construct both their husbands and the particular national identity construction most presently politically relevant in a way that strategically aligns the two. Building on previous social identity work on leadership, we show how it is not only the leader or their followers who are active participants in leadership construction but that there may also be a role for “third parties” who link prospective leaders with followers. We propose that, as “entrepreneurs” of identity, leaders may use others as “identity mediators” to co-construct and mediate both the leader's identity and the identity of those they seek to lead.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-956
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

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