Barack Obama, presidential campaigns, presidential inauguration, presidential transitions, ritual communication


This essay reviews Barack Obama’s 2008-2009 transition from president-elect to president. Not only must the new and old presidents coordinate practical, bureaucratic matters, but in the United States, the president-elect is put through an 11-week legitimation ritual. As his status is transformed from campaigner to president, his words and actions in various situations are viewed as tests of strengths, weaknesses, vision, prudence, negotiative skill, humanity, fiber, and resolve. Not only is he tested but his words and actions are read by the press, commentators, and bloggers as signs of good or bad fortune for the country, just as the augurs of old read natural signs before momentous events. In general, Obama passed the tests and for the most part, an era of good fortune was predicted.


Original Citation: Wiese Leek, Danielle, and Bruce E. Gronbeck. "From Electioneering to Governing: Obama’s Transition as Legitimation Ritual." American Behavioral Scientist 54, no. 4 (2010): 436-462.