First Advisor

Robert C. Liebman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Right-wing extremists -- Middle West, Right and left (Political science), Farmers -- Middle West -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 116 p.)


This thesis evaluates two theories purporting to explain the rise of right-wing extremism in the Midwest during the farm crisis of the 1980s. The pluralist argument suggests that Midwestern right-wing extremism was rooted in previous episodes of agrarian radicalism. The political tradition perspective, on the other hand, claims that right-wing extremism in the Midwest was rooted in traditional conservatism. To evaluate these theories, an analysis of ten counties was performed. Particular attention was paid to seven variables which theorists argue point agriculturally based communities down political paths of radicalism or conservatism. Regional analyses were also performed on those counties which resided in similar areas of the Midwest. The findings offer stronger support for the political tradition perspective than for the pluralist argument. These finding suggest that those counties in which right-wing extremist activity did not occur were ones which supported past agrarian radical movements while those counties which experienced right-wing extremism were for the most part opponents of past radical agrarian movements. The thesis suggests that future research on rightwing extremism should focus attention on the political traditions of the communities were such movements become established and that a number of alternative variables should be considered.


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