Symposium: The Rise and Fall of the Tea Party

Lauren Langmann

Right wing populism has typically consisted of anti-statist/elitist mobilizations by the ‘common people’ opposed to government policies and/or various out-groups. Such cycles of contention, typically prompted by various social changes and/or crises, have long been an essential feature of American society. The Tea Party (Parties) appeared in 2009 as a response to economic stagnation and crisis, secular challenges to traditional religious identities and the election of an African American president. The Tea Partiers were generally highly conservative, highly religious, rural/suburban, lower middle class Republicans. Such movements might be best understood as reactionary ‘resistance movements’ that attempt to defend and retain traditional identities and statuses based on race, patriarchy and hetero-normativity that have been under assault by late modern ‘network’ society. Such movements, prompted by anger, rage and ressentiment may garner attention and even wider support, but if/when they gain power, they foster ‘buyer’s remorse’ and eventually wane.

Check out the special issue (38:4) on the Tea Party at :

Critical Sociology
Publication/Event Date: 
January, 2012