Local Tea Party group part of national study

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jan 26, 2011 - 03:43 PM

Members of the Peninsula Patriots, a local Tea Party group, will be part of a national study by a Harvard University professor. Theda Skocpol, American sociologist and political scientist at Harvard, visited Gloucester earlier this week to conduct interviews with nearly a dozen Peninsula Patriots members.

The professor conducted the study that will be included in a series of papers and a book, looking at how groups of citizens organize for various purposes.

She was connected with the group through one of its members, Peter Stephens, who read one of Skocpol’s articles published in Politico magazine. Stephens said he disagreed with an item the professor had written about and had contacted her by e-mail about it. After e-mail discussions that went on for a few months, Skocpol asked Stephens if she could come to Gloucester to speak with members of his group.

Each of the meetings was confidential, Skocpol said, as is the practice of research scholars. "Most of the people wouldn’t have minded if I used their names," she said, "but it’s just the practice we use." In the interviews, Skocpol asked Peninsula Patriot members a series of questions that included a brief biographical description of themselves, why they decided to be a part of a certain political organization, and their political stances on various issues.