Skip To Nav

Site-specific menu

Share |

Professor's book examines 'post-racial' society, perceptions of Obama

by Jeanne Baron

Dec. 2, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Mark Orbe, WMU.
KALAMAZOO--Race issues, the role of the media in 21st century politics and public perceptions of President Barack Obama's communication style are all examined in a recently published book by Dr. Mark P. Orbe, Western Michigan University professor of communication.

"Communication Realities in a 'Post-Racial' Society: What the U.S. Public Really Thinks About Barack Obama" was published in November by Lexington Books.

The first book its kind, it draws from a large national qualitative data set generated by 333 diverse participants from 12 different U.S. states across six regions and provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the similarities and differences that exist among diverse groups of everyday Americans.

"This book sets a tone and a standard for future research, and provides the kind of intimate details we need to get beyond polls and punditry," one reviewer wrote. "A must-read for anyone concerned about how we communicate about race in the Obama Era."

Another reviewer described "Communication Realities" as being simultaneously entertaining and thought provoking and an important book for anyone who cares about U.S. politics or race. "Orbe's thorough research reveals important patterns in people's feelings about President Obama," he wrote. "The book suggests that people may disagree about whether we are or should be post-racial because they disagree about whether we are post-racist."

A WMU faculty member since 1997, Orbe holds a joint appointment in the School of Communication and the Gender and Women's Studies Program.

He is an expert in interpersonal communication, communication and diversity, and intercultural communication. His research focuses on co-cultural communication, intergroup relations, African American communication, mass media representations of underrepresented group members, and negotiation and intersection of multiple cultural identities.

Orbe is an associate editor for Critical Studies in Media Communication and the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication as well as a member of the editorial boards for Communication Studies and the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research.

He has served in similar capacities and as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other scholarly publications, including the journals of Intergroup Relations, Family Communication, and Ethnic and Migration Studies; Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; Health Communication; and Women's Studies in Communication.

Orbe earned a bachelor's degree in organizational communication from Ohio University in 1986, a master's degree in education from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 1989 and a doctoral degree in interpersonal and intercultural communication from Ohio University in 1993. He also has completed post-doctoral course work at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication in Portland, Ore.