, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 43-53

The Tea ‘Party’ as a Conservative Social Movement

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What little recent academic analyses the Tea Party has received thus far has attempted to place it within the context of past scholarly work on conservative social movements. The comparison is not flattering, as social movements that originate from the right have almost invariably been portrayed as intolerant, resentful, ignorant, and paranoid (Bell 1963; Lipset 1955; Hofstadter 1955, 1965). For example, Tea Party opposition to the policies of the Obama administration is seen as a product of fear and racism in a recent article. The authors contend that “racial resentment stokes Tea Party fears about generational societal change, and fuels the Tea Party’s strong opposition to President Obama.”

Vanessa Williamson, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin, “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” Perspectives on Politics, March 2011: 34.

While these racists sentiments are not “conscious, deliberate, and publicly expressed,” the authors insist they are part of a “nebulous fear” th