The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson
"The definitive study of the Tea Party."

Charlotte Observer

The Charlotte Observer lists The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism among their “noteworthy paperbacks,” saying:

Rooted in anthropological fieldwork, this informative study examines the anti-government passions and sources of discord among tea partiers at the grass-roots and national levels.

Vanessa Williamson appeared today on Armstrong and Getty, a Northern California morning talk-radio program.

1 year ago

Timothy Noah Cites Skocpol/Williamson in The New Republic

Timothy Noah uses The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism to discuss the relationship between the Tea Party and Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare.

David Frum cites Skocpol/Williamson on the generation gap

In his Newsweek article, David Frum cites The Tea Party in his explanation of the generational clash over the role of government.

Surveys used to find baby boomers somewhat less anti-government than their elders born in the 1920s and 1930s. Since 2007, however, the attitudes of 60-somethings and 80-somethings have converged, with almost two thirds of both groups opposing active government.

As political scientists Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson found in their study The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, the general anti-government attitude of today’s retirees is heavily seasoned with mistrust and dislike of today’s youth. “[Y]oung people feature prominently in stories Tea Partiers tell about undeserving freeloaders.” They don’t exempt their own children—in fact, it is often their own children and grandchildren toward whom they direct their angriest scorn. As one elderly activist quoted by Skocpol and Williamson puts his generational irritation: “My grandson, he’s fourteen, and he asked me: ‘Why should I work, why can’t I just get free money?’” (A comedian’s riposte: “The Tea Party is God’s judgment on us for teaching our parents how to use the Internet.”)

Williamson Featured in the Sacramento Bee


Over the weekend, a column by Vanessa Williamson featured on the front page of the Sacramento Bee’s Sunday opinion section.

Chris Lydon interviews Vanessa Williamson on Radio Open Source


Listen to Vanessa Williamson’s latest interview, with Chris Lydon at Radio Open Source, on the Tea Party’s origins and future, and their role in the Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

NYTimes: Skocpol and Williamson book “a model for the kind of amibitious work that could emerge in studies of the Occupy movement.”

The Tea Party was cited in today’s New York Times, as a part of an article about the study of the Occupy movement:

“Academics are used to taking forever, but we don’t have to,” said Theda Skocpol, a sociologist at Harvard and author, with Vanessa Williamson, of “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” a study of Occupy’s right-wing counterpart published in January.

That book, which combines in-depth interviews with quantitative analysis of the Tea Party movement, is a model for the kind of ambitious work that could emerge in studies of the Occupy movement, some social scientists say. But getting a handle on Occupy, with its amorphous structure and aims, could be more challenging, Ms. Skocpol said.

“The Tea Party from the beginning saw themselves as leveraging and changing the Republican Party, while the Occupy people are much more ambivalent,” she said. “That makes them harder to pin down.”

Skocpol and Williamson Cited in The Guardian

In today’s Guardian, Michael Cohen uses The Tea Party to explain Mitt Romney’s “anti-change agenda.”

Read between the lines and what Romney is really preaching is an ideology of preservatism and restoration – of nostalgia for “the way things used to be.”

The fears of progress and the fetishization of an ideal past that Romney is playing upon here go far beyond economic concerns, but to larger societal and cultural ones. In their recent book on the rise of the Tea Party movement, Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, note that when interviewing Tea Party members, they rarely, if ever, heard about economic worries, but rather the “nightmare of societal decline”. According to Skocpol and Williamson, those they spoke with “worried that their children do not grow up fishing in local streams or know what it was like to feel safe walking home late at night.” Others “talked about swings being taken out of playgrounds to meet persnickety safety standards, and schoolchildren suspended for carrying pocketknives.” For them, a message of nostalgia is political catnip.

Skocpol/Williamson Cited in Politico

In Politico yesterday, Mike Males cited The Tea Party in his article on the political leanings of senior citizens:

Commentators like The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki, The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, The Nation’s Christopher Hayes and Harvard sociologists Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson (“The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism”) variously note an alarming trend: Today’s elderly regard themselves as uniquely entitled to government support and resent younger generations getting public benefits.

Skocpol and Williamson find the senior-dominated tea party (surveys peg the average age at around 60) is concerned less with “detailed policy logic” than with “societal oppositions.” True, “deserving” Americans, they find, are vowing to “take our country back” from the “undeserving” young, immigrant and poor. Older whites view “changing societal norms, greater ethnic diversity, international cosmopolitanism, and new redistributions aimed at younger citizens” as “a frightful threat,” Skocpol and Williamson write.

David Frum: “the best academic work on the Tea Party”

In his latest column, David Frum calls The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism "the best academic work on the Tea Party."