Student Perceptions of and Reactions to a Political Speech: How College Students Hear and Talk about President Obama
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Many scholars, both within and outside the social sciences, have examined the Obama presidency through their particular disciplines. This study extends research on the Obama presidency by examining the Obama presidency through the perspective of the sociology of everyday life, and does so with an ethnomethodological framework. From the sociology of everyday life perspective, the presidency is a social construction, one created and sustained through everyday interaction. The ethnomethodological framework suggests that people’s social construction of the presidency can be empirically studied by examining how a person speaks about the presidency. The research reported here examines the various ways college students respond to and talk about President Obama’s political speech and the Office of the Presidency. In this study, twenty-seven undergraduate students were shown a video recording of Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address. The findings suggest that although respondents hear the same speech and can summarize the speech in similar ways, their interpretations of the speech, as well as their interpretations of the presidency, are derived from their memberships in certain social groups.