The Tea Party and the Dilemmas of Conservative Populism

david s. meyer, Amanda Pullum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Meyer and Pullum, in Chapter 4, offer a contrasting explanation of this conservative mobilization, suggesting that social protest has diffused so widely, both geographically and demographically, that it has now become a standard political tactic for both the left and the right. They situate the Tea Party movement within existing theories on social movements, highlighting how these help explain the movement's emergence and dynamics. As they do so, they draw on Meyer and Tarrow's concept of the "social movement society" (1998), which suggests that protest has become a fairly routine political tactic which has lost its disruptive power as protesters use less confrontational forms of collective action and authorities have learned to manage them. Thus, collective protest is no longer remarkable and has become something used across the spectrum of society, including by political insiders and other segments of society not typically known for their protest activity. The legitimation of protest as an advocacy tactic has paradoxically made it harder for social movements of the excluded to have any political influence. This paradox is especially ironic for the Tea Party, which represents itself as a democratic movement of citizens reclaiming their right to have a political voice and influence. 
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationUnderstanding the Tea Party
StatePublished - Mar 14 2014


  • Tea Party movement
  • social movement society
  • social movements


  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Sociology
  • Politics and Social Change

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