Leaders and Followers Hovering between Hope and Fears -
How Political Leadership Might Lead to Political Integration.
The project concentrates its efforts on investigating the integrative capacity of political leadership within democracies. This integrative capacity of political leadership is but one of its systemic functions but probably one of the most interesting and so far least explored. Given that we see receding turnout, devastating approval ratings of politicians, faltering political confidence concerning democratic problem solving and the rise of populist parties, some of them even of dubious democratic attitude, problems concerning political integration might stay centre-stage on the scientific agenda for the foreseeable future.
If there is, as argued, an integrative impact of political leadership, it would also affect acceptance and legitimisation within the democratic system and might create a stabilising social climate, conducive for successful democracy.
On the other hand knowing the competitive aspect of democracy that requires concurrent political leadership there could also be gained disadvantageous affects, such as polarisation, radicalisation, fragmentation and growing partisanship.
The project aims to look at the integrative aspect of public leadership using a dual model of political leadership, a model that distinguishes political leadership according to its style of provoking emotions.
modeling political leadership
The chosen emotions are hope and fear as possible driving forces for human behaviour. The two models are of course ideal simplified models, in real world not to be found in its radical forms. Non the less I assume that you can easily find examples for political leadership through history and across various cultures predominately characterised by either one of these emotions and arguably with different effects on the integrative capacity of leadership.
to fuel hope- inclusive model of political leadership
This model emphasises a common path, a mutual goal - the identification between leader and followers is primarily generated by purposeful movement. It can be described as open on principle (flock).
to fuel fear- exclusive model of political leadership
This model emphasises a chosen group, exclusion - the identification between leader and followers is primarily generated by territory. It can be described as closed on principle (pack).
The research concentrates on the Unites States, looking for examples of inclusive and exclusive political leadership.
The systemic parameters regarding political leadership (limitations and latitude of power, actors/veto-players, defining social myths/the American dream) are analysed with a special focus on recent developements. Barack Obama, his speeches, public appearances, campaign, political output and turnout, public protest, supporters and his political competitors are scrutinized concerning the two models of political leadership.
What can we learn from the case study about political leadership in general and political leadership in the 21st century in particular? Can we look at the United States as a model for Europe and the European Union?
working paper and bibliography
In case you read German you can find an extensive description of the project here:
or read the Paper presented at the AuPSA Day of Political Sciences in Graz, November 2012, about Obama and the political Right - inclusive and exclusive leadership: paper/Day of Political Sciences.
Bibliography and Internetresources are published separately.
If you are interested you can find the books and articles gathered during research on political leadership and on the political system of the United States here: Just download the bibliography or look at the internetsources.
I've done an online presentation via prezi to visualize Barack Obama's leadership-style during his presidential campaigns and during his first term in office:
Useful aggregated data:
the research project has been sponsored by:
TWF - Tyrolean Fund of Scientific Research