The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Academic articles make strange bedfellows

August 1, 2006

From this issue of Politics and Society, I offer two keywords we will probably never see next to one another again:

The Strength of Weekly Ties: Relations of Material and Symbolic Exchange in the Conservative Movement
Thomas Medvetz
University of California, Berkeley

The current Republican ascendancy in American government has generated considerable scholarly interest in the conservative movement. Through an ethno-graphic study of the widely publicized but seldom-observed “Wednesday meeting” of conservative activists, this article inquires into the bases of the conservative movement’s internal cohesion and successful management of alliances with state officials. I argue that the meeting functions as both an instrument of material power and a ritual of symbolic maintenance by establishing relations of reciprocal exchange and sustaining a moral community of conservative activists and their allies. More broadly, the article examines the mutual conditioning and genetic linkage of two dimensions of social reality: relations of force and relations of meaning.

Key Words: conservative movement • right-wing activism • social movements • Grover NorquistPierre Bourdieu

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.