Collective Identity in the Tea Party Movement
Collective identity, or a shared sense of belonging to a group, is the scaffolding of social movements. Integral to collective identity is the creation and articulation of the boundaries of a group. Boundaries promote an awareness of a collective's commonalities and effectively demarcate who is—and who is not—a legitimate member of a group. In short, boundaries communicate the cognitive, moral, and emotional connections among individuals to both group members and external audiences. This chapter examines boundary shifts in the Florida Tea Party movement (TPM). It shows that the collective identity of the local TPM constricted with the cycle of contention. Specifically, it identifies three “episodes of contention” and highlights how electoral success and the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which made overlapping claims, forced the TPM to renegotiate its collective identity boundaries in ways that limited its political appeal. It concludes with a discussion of the implications for the study of social movement dynamics and collective identity.
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