Changing The Subject: Occupy Wall Street's Achievements and Prospects In Comparative Perspective

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Ruth MILKMAN , City University of New York
Stephanie LUCE , City University of New York
Penelope LEWIS , City University of New York

Occupy Wall Street burst onto the scene in New York City in September 2011.  It was partly inspired by social movements in the Middle East and Southern Europe, and soon after its critique of inequality gained traction with the slogan "We Are The 99%," it helped to stimulate many similar occupations worldwide.  In the aftermath of the eviction of the New York City protestors from Zuccotti Park and the similar evictions around the country, the U.S. Occupy Wall Street movement has dissipated.  But similar movements have continued to spring up around the globe, and the social processes that led to the emergence of Occupy in the U.S. remain in place.

This paper explores the sociological roots of the New York Occupy movement, with particular attention to the changing U.S. labor market.  Drawing on the results of a representative survey we conducted of New York City Occupy Wall Street participants in a May 2012 protest march, we analyze the movement's characteristics and discuss its achievements.   In addition, we consider various comparisons and contrasts between the New York Occupy movement and other such movements before and since, and on that basis speculate about the prospects for the future of such movements in the USA and elsewhere.