Date of Submission

Summer 7-21-2013


Political Science

Faculty Advisor

Mark Rupert


Populism, Marxism, Hegemony, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Inequality

Subject Categories

American Politics | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change


The economic crisis of 2008 triggered a broad cultural, social, and political upheaval that incited both conservative and progressive movements composed of people who felt politically powerless and marginalized. The dominant institutions, these groups believed, could offer neither material benefits, nor an attractive ideological vision. Thus, these movements posited their own alternative political visions and mobilized their reform efforts under the banner of populism, often hinging on an interpretation of the producerist ethic. The central claim of my thesis is that while both the Tea Party and Occupy movements rose out of the economic crisis of 2008 and reflected widespread public grievances with the current political and economic order (e.g. the dominant political parties and corporatism), both movements failed to garner enough political and popular traction to enact the kinds of reformations that each movement sought. The Occupy movement is scattered, and while the Tea Party succeeded in witnessing some of its ideological visions advanced, its future remains uncertain. Thus, the lifespan and trajectories of these two movements reveal not only some of the critical deficiencies in populism as a mechanism for political change, but also illustrating instances in which dominant hegemonies can sustain themselves during periods of turmoil.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.