A new article published in the American Sociological Review, “Educational Segregation, Tea Party Organizations, and the Battles over Distributive Justice,” should be read by anyone actually interested in mounting an opposition to the Tea Party movement. The authors relied on data collected by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), (visible at http://www.irehr.orgissue-areas/tea-party-nationalism/the-data/528-tea-party-membership-map-2013). They cross-referenced IREHR data on the location of Tea Party members and organizations with information from the U.S. Census and other sources.
They began by considering the “possibility that residential segregation of the highly educated may facilitate mobilization of a social movement, such as the Tea Party.” They expected that “segregated communities” might “reinforce” views that would develop into a movement. Further, they understood that the Tea Party movement was not just about economic conservatism, but a “shared a cultural vision about what it means to be an American and a good citizen.” They found that Tea Partiers are opposed to re-distributive justice, because the poor and those outside their purview simply did not deserve such.
The authors concluded that Tea Party organizations “tend to be found in populous counties,” but not highly “urbanized” locations; suburbs for short, not rural areas. And both “educational segregation and political partisanship” were important factors.This article helps explain why there have been few instances of consistent opposition to the Tea Party movement, and it should be studied by all.