Sociology ETDs


Stacy Keogh

Publication Date



The Tea Party is a social and political movement urging government accountability, individual fiscal responsibility, and personal liberty as outlined by the United States Constitution. In this dissertation, I examine the cultural components of the Montana Tea Party asking two primary research questions: (1) What are the cultural dynamics of the Tea Party? (2) How does this determine the way the Tea Party engages in contentious politics? I found that the way the Montana Tea Party utilizes the resources of religion to provide a culture structure familiar to participants. It utilizes religious rhetoric to provide familiarity to the nations civil religion, which is a politicized version of the sacred that is less spiritual than it is political. Finally, the Montana Tea Party consists of a variety of individuals representing a broad range of political ideology from moderate to far right. These perspectives vary socially, culturally, politically, and economically, representing various political parties, ideologies, and various degrees of religiosity. As a result, there is a fragmented sense of identity, making it difficult to stimulate collective political action. The action that does take place in the movement is primarily individually forged, though always encouraged and supported peripherally from others in the MTP. This study speaks to the literature on political sociology, social movements, and the sociology of religion. It provides new social scientific evidence on culture and mobilization and suggests a new lens through which we may examine tactics of mobilization in the 21st century.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Nepstad, Sharon

Second Committee Member

Gonzales, Phillip

Third Committee Member

Borrie, Bill


Social Movements, Politics, Religion, Tea Party, Montana



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