Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NPR presentation on the sociology of the Tea Party Movement

I am sure most of the readers have heard of the American Tea Party movement. Seventeen million are sympathetic to that group, and several supported by them won major nominations in the Republican primary. But what is of interest to this blog is their structure, or lack thereof. is that they have no central hierarchy. They rely on social media to organize networks. The recognize, like Brian Martin did, that if one fights in one elections, one has to keep fighting every two years to keep one's gains.

Sociologists said that it is very difficult to have a national impact and be radically decentralized and not have a leader. Let's look at a example they raised. A member or pseudo-member makes a statement, perhaps a racist one. A news organization calls for a quote. If there is an office and a leader, the chief executive disowns the member and racism. Without an organization, there is noone to say they or are not a member or to expel them. However, with just a coordinator, she or he would summon a sortition jury who could prepare a statement. Of course, those who deal with an organization like a quick decision from the front office. But a randomly choosen group selected from those who made themselves available at a given time and contacted by cell phones can still respond quickly. My University is starting a Presidential Search as Dr. Alvin Goldfarb announced his retirement next June. I asked, "why do we need a Presdent." The issue of someone to be a spokesperson was raised.

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