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Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party

What the Movement Reflects about Mainstream Ideologies

Meghan A. Burke

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Paperback
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It has been all too tempting to characterize the Tea Party as an irrational, racist, astro-turf movement composed of members who are working to subvert their own economic interests. Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party reveals a much messier and much more fascinating analysis of this movement. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with organizers and fieldwork at conservative campaign trainings and conventions, its rich ethnographic data explores how the active folks in this movement, specifically organizers in one Midwestern state, understand their world, and how they act on that basis to change it. As this book will reveal, most Tea Party organizers do depend on deeply flawed understandings of race and class—either believing wholeheartedly in myths, or confining their analyses to the narrow limits of the conservative media system. Yet, Tea Party racism is simply American racism.

Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party reveals the complexities and contradictions inherent in this movement, where organizers attempt to reconcile their personal experiences with their conservative politics. In the end, these dynamics reveal as much about us as it does about the Tea Party. It is certain to challenge all of our politics, and especially our scholarly thinking, about the movement, and offers a path toward real conversations about our collective future in the United States.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 140Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-8553-7 • Hardback • January 2015 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4985-0913-8 • Paperback • May 2016 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-8554-4 • eBook • January 2015 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Meghan A. Burke is assistant professor of sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Women And Men In The Land Of Lincoln
Chapter Three: Tea Party Racism Is American Racism
Chapter Four: Women And Gender In The Tea Party
Chapter Five: Ideology and Coalition
Drawing on 25 interviews with Tea Party organizers in Illinois, Burke makes a plea for seeing this social movement as a rational response to economic distress shared with those on the Left disturbed by deindustrialization and a disappearing middle class. This brief book offers many extensive direct quotes from Burke’s respondents, allowing readers to evaluate her claims about rationality and potential cross-party alliances. . . .Discourses that essentialize women as mothers and as 'giving' to the cause are interpreted as 'empowering' women politically, and anger at American 'decay' and 'elites' is given a positive spin as a form of class consciousness. Useful for both the data and Burke's provocative interpretations. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.
CHOICE


Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party moves beyond simplistic stereotypes to capture the complex ideological beliefs of Tea Party organizers. Author Meghan Burke convincingly illustrates how Tea Party understandings are not “on the fringe,” but are clearly connected to mainstream beliefs about race, gender, and class. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of this influential group.
Ashley "Woody" Doane, University of Hartford


An important and fresh look at the Tea Party. Meghan Burke masterfully portrays the complexities of a movement in which democratic impulses and women’s empowerment coexist with support for continued inequalities of race and social class. Essential reading for all students of modern American politics.
Kathleen M. Blee, University of Pittsburgh; author of Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement


• Winner, Midwest Sociological Society (MSS) Early Career Scholarship Award (Author Award)
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