© 2018

The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and the Great Recession


  • Based on the interpretation of (qualitative) interviews, focus-group discussions and participant observations conducted with activists from the two movements in the years 2012-2014

  • Refers to available surveys and statistics on the protest movements

  • Of interest to scholars and students working on contemporary capitalism, dynamics of class-societies, and social movements on the right and left of the political spectrum


Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)

About this book


This book analyzes the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street as symptoms of the structural crisis of US capitalism and its class structure. It shows that the protests have to be understood as rooted in the petty bourgeoisie’s lived experience of crisis, which also plays a crucial role in current political developments like the successful presidential campaign of Donald Trump. The book explains the Great Recession as an acute phase of the structural crisis of the finance-dominated accumulation regime, identifies the social classes from which the core-participants of the respective protests recruited themselves and the socioeconomic developments to which they were exposed in the years leading up to the protests, and interprets interviews and group discussions conducted with activists to reconstruct the habitus that structured both their experience of the crisis and their resonance with the respective protest practices. It thereby provides an encompassing understanding of the social logics not only of these social movements, but of the current political conjuncture in the US.


Occupy Wall Street Tea Party protest-as-symptom Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Occupy Germany Blockupy radical politics Social movements

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany

About the authors

Nils C. Kumkar is a postdoctoral research fellow at the SOCIUM, University of Bremen, Germany

Bibliographic information


“The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and the Great Recession, is an ambitious and thought-provoking addition to this literature. … Kumkar’s conceptually synthetic and analytically meticulous work makes for a stimulating contribution to nonreductionist class analysis of contemporary movements. It helps us understand OWS and the Tea Party by reconstructing how ordinary citizens made sense of the nameless disruption of capitalist crisis with the instruments of class-specific moral categories, their myopias included.” (Linus Westheuser, Mobilization, Vol. 24 (4), November, 2019)