Peace Prize Choice Celebrated and Criticized
The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that President Barack Obama will receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Committee commended President Obama for encouraging international diplomacy, engaging in nuclear disarmament dialogue and arms control negotiations, and providing global citizens with an optimistic outlook on the future. Additionally, the Committee supported President Obama’s position that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”
According to an article in the New York Times, President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize may be a political liability. Republicans argued that President Obama does not deserve to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. They claimed that the Committee selected President Obama because of his oratorical skills rather than his actual achievements. Committee Chairperson, Thorbjorn Jagland, disagreed with these criticisms: “The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world. And, who has done more than Barack Obama?”
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany commented that “In a short time, he has been able to set a new tone throughout the world and to create a readiness for dialogue.” Additionally, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France stated that President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize represents “America’s return to the hearts of the world’s peoples”.
President Obama stated that he was “very surprised” and “deeply humbled” after receiving the news: “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”
Sociologists can examine this debate by utilizing literature on the presentation of self and on impression management. Individuals are likely to present themselves in favorable fashions through assertions (e.g., sayings) and expressions (e.g., doings). Although others draw on expressions to assess the validity of assertions, individuals are aware of this possibility and manage impressions by engaging in expressions that inform assertions. Not only individuals, but also others create a definition of the situation through their assertions and expressions. As this debate intensifies, sociologists might compare the definition of the situation created by the Committee, global leaders, President Obama, and the Republicans.