Prophets and Patriots takes readers inside two of the most active populist movements of the Obama era and highlights cultural convergences and contradictions at the heart of American political life. In the wake of the Great Recession and amid rising discontent with government responsiveness to ordinary citizens, the book follows participants in two very different groups—a progressive faith-based community organization and a conservative Tea Party group—as they set out to become active and informed citizens, put their faith into action, and hold government accountable. They viewed themselves as the latest in a long line of prophetic voices and patriotic heroes who were carrying forward the promise of the American democratic project. Yet the practical ways in which each group pursued this common vision reflected different understandings of American democracy and citizenship.
Ruth Braunstein is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut.
"This is important reading for anyone who wants to understand the practical meanings of populism in America." —Paul Lichterman, Professor of Sociology and Religion, University of Southern California
"This is an important book for everyone worried about the polarization of American politics. Presented with sympathy and insight, Ruth Braunstein's research helps clarify the competing—and sometimes surprisingly similar—moral visions, self-understandings, and motivations of activists on the right and left." —Craig Calhoun, President, Berggruen Institute
"Ruth Braunstein's book could not be more timely. She demonstrates that, even in our deeply polarized times, Americans on the right and left share fundamental presuppositions about what sustains and what undermines democracy. Her sophisticated theorizing about civil discourse and civil religion informs extensive, open-minded field research. Prophets and Patriots is a salutary read in our troubled times." —Jeffrey C. Alexander, Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology, Yale University