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Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America Hardcover – May 26, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (May 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691151830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691151830
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

"A scathing analysis of the Tea Party movement, linking it in spirit to the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society. Taking today's conservative populists to be dangerous and their ideas self-incriminating, the authors speculate that Tea Party supporters may perceive of social change as subversion. Based on research and interviews, they suggest racism, desire for social dominance . . . drives the Tea Party."--Publishers Weekly

"Change They Can't Believe In offers valuable empirical data on the Tea Party, and its focus on supporters' antagonism toward Obama is critical to understanding the movement."--Michael O'Donnell, New Republic

"[A] rigorous scholarly investigation of the tea party. . . . Parker and Barreto make the case that tea party supporters are driven above all by 'anxiety incited by Obama as President.' Intuitively, this may already make sense to many readers, but the authors muster the evidence in support, dividing and subdividing different categories of political activity and belief to arrive at a firm basis for their conclusion. . . . [S]upported by reasoned facts in place of political passions."--Kirkus Reviews

"[Parker and Barreto's] statistically informed analysis helps us understand the Tea Party's priorities, its fervor, and its contempt for compromise."--Glenn C. Altschuler, Huffington Post

"In Change They Can't Believe In, Parker and Barreto examine the emergence of the Tea Party in the wake of the Obama presidency. . . . In addition to marshaling a great deal of original data, the authors capably place the Tea Party movement in a historical context."--Choice

From the Inside Flap

"Parker and Barreto have conducted exacting research to probe the contours of support for the Tea Party, and their innovative, scientific, and critical book highlights how Tea Party sympathizers differ from mainstream conservatives in crucial ways. The authors demonstrate that despite the public image of the Tea Party, its supporters cannot be characterized as either patriotic or freedom loving. This is a must-read for all students of American politics and anyone concerned about democracy in America."--Michael C. Dawson, University of Chicago

"This original and important book is the most well-researched and significant scholarly study of the Tea Party movement and its members yet to appear. Unfolding a profile of Tea Party activists threatened by liberal changes and ill-formulated images of big government and state regulatory power, Parker and Barreto tease out core beliefs and views, ranging from commonplace conservatism to racist antagonism. Their book is an outstanding contribution to understanding American politics."--Desmond King, University of Oxford

"The Tea Party has attracted a great deal of attention since it burst on the scene in 2010, but few books about the movement have rested on as impressive an empirical foundation as this one. The portrait Parker and Barreto paint of the model Tea Party sympathizer is chilling and sure to anger movement apologists who insist the group is made up of typical patriotic conservatives. This timely, important work deserves the widest audience possible."--Doug McAdam, Stanford University

"Through a statistically and historically informed analysis of the views of Tea Party sympathizers, Parker and Barreto show that at bottom, many condemn America as it has come to be: a country in which white straight Christian men do not set standards for all. Precisely because their American dreams must go unfulfilled, the passions of these sympathizers will remain forces in American life for years to come."--Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania

"This book's main contribution to the growing literature on the Tea Party movement is its focus on the characteristics and political beliefs of Tea Party supporters--rather than activists--and its theoretical framework, which locates the Tea Party in the broader structure of far-right social and political movements in the United States."--Alan Abramowitz, Emory University


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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By WestCoastReader on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I suspect those who gave 1-star reviews did not read the book. If they had and if they were honest, even if they don't agree with Parker's opinions and/or don't like the book, they would have to give him credit for writing a carefully researched, methodological, empirical and fact-based look at Tea Party supporters. If they read the book, they'd understand that the Ku Klux Klan comparison is specifically based on the relatively political Klan of the 1920s, not the more violent Klan of the Post-Civil-War South or the 1950s and later. If they read the book, they'd understand the comparison with the '20s Klan and the John Birch Society is based on strong demographic and political similarities of supporters of these groups, again from fact-based research. And the authors certainly do not say that all Tea Party member or supporters are racist.

Particularly interesting to me is the research on how Tea Party supporters differ from other conservatives, in some ways they are very similar and in some ways very different.

Contrary to a reviewer of 12/7/13 who says that they are "embarrassed for the University of Washington" because of this book, as a graduate of both the University of Washington undergrad and U of Chicago grad, I take pride in Parker having his Phd from Chicago and being currently a tenured faculty at UW.

A little bit academic for my tastes, repetitive at times. Not an "Amazon-verified purchase" as I bought on BN for my Nook.
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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Martin R. Adams on July 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a peer reviewer for three major scientific journals in my field, I know good solid research with credible results when I see them. That's exactly what you get in Parker and Barreto's book. They use the Tea Party members' own words to expose them for what they really are; i.e. a group driven more by raw emotion and less by well conceived ideology and rational thought. People who cotton to the Tea Party movement won't like this book at all. But, it's a good approximation of the truth about these political activists that have now become such a force within the conservative movement that they are the "tail that wags the dog". They will not be leaving the scene any time soon, thought the blind hatred that animates them may abate once Obama leaves office. They will remain a "boil". Fortunately, the authors of "Change" have lanced it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Hayden on January 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-researched overview of the Tea Party, documenting the fact that it represents a long-established strain within US political movements spanning multiple decades. It accurately catalogs the actions and statements of the various factions of this movement, and the resulting picture is not complimentary - it is, in fact, a chilling view of people who understand democracy so little that they can reconcile the cognitive dissonance of subverting democracy to 'get their freedoms back' - which, more accurately stated, means subverting democracy to retain their position atop the social order.

The book is, as noted, thoughtful, thorough, and well-presented, but it would have been a more effective document had the authors taken a more trenchant stance vis-a-vis the toxic effect of the tea party on both US democracy as a whole, and (more importantly) the effect they have had on the GOP.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Randolph Eck on March 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had heard of the Tea Party previously, and I never gave them much thought; however, the 2013 government shutdown brought them front and center. Who are these people, I thought. That question led me to read this very interesting book.

Basically, the Tea Party folk are a group who believe that the real America is "a heterosexual, Christian, middle-class, (mostly) male, white country." What they see, however, is a black president (whom 90% think is Muslim), a female house speaker, gay and lesbian rights movements, among other things. To them social change is a subversion, and they fear it. When they chant "Take our country back!," these are the people they want to take it back from. They are reactionary conservatives in the sense that they fear change of any kind. Nothing must undermine their way of life notes the authors.

The authors begin by trying to ascertain the conservative nature of this group. An examination of their websites (compared with the National Review Online, a conservative site) show that 33 percent of the content is conspiratorial in nature, a 400 percent greater rate of attacks on the president, and a 600 percent greater rate of attacks on the government, thus showing a significant leaning toward reactionary conservatism. Through a Multi-State Survey of Race and Politics, the authors display many charts (these charts are difficult to read on the Kindle version) and results of many interviews with not only Tea Party folk, but also sympathizers and critics of the Tea Party as well.

According to the authors, the sympathizers of the Tea Party tend to be older, financially well off, well educated, evangelical, and mostly male.
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Ian Abbey on June 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's about time somebody looked at the Tea Party from an objective academic perspective, and we finally have it with this book.

No, the Tea Party isn't composed entirely of racist hicks. No, the movement itself isn't even racist. YES, the people who form the movement are pretty much the usual suspects in American right-wing reactionary groups throughout history. There's no question that their membership is heavily white, middle-class, middle-aged, and religious. Fifty years ago, they would've been prime recruits for the John Birch Society. Forty years before that, they would have been in the Klan (not the Reconstruction era Southern KKK, but the nationwide KKK from the interwar era). All three groups have the same goals: preserving the socioeconomic status for "real" Americans, resistance to what they perceive as unwelcome change, and a return to "traditional" roots.
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