Comparing Occupy Movements: Global Mobilizing Power, Local Political Context and Dynamic

Monday, July 14, 2014: 12:45 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Lev GRINBERG , Sociology, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
A new wave of mass mobilization and popular struggle has spread all over the world since 2011, traveling from Tunisia and Egypt to Spain, Chile and Israel and the USA. When the wave arrived to the US the New Yorkers gave to name to the global new repertoire of resistance: occupy movement. Although the events in one place encouraged activists in other places, the content and impact of the new movements was determined by the local political conditions.

It is my argument that despite all the differences and peculiarities of political context and dynamics, there is a common pattern to all movements: the need to occupy the public space in order to be recognized and to talk in the name of the people, the masses or 99%. All mobilizations are resisting the economic damage caused to middle and lower classes by the neo-liberal economic policies. Two main effects of neo-liberal policies gave rise to the occupy movement's new repertoire: the individualism that destroys social solidarity, and the weakening of political parties as the locus of negotiations between civil society and the state.

Occupying the public sphere is an innovative repertoire designed to reconstruct social solidarity and "peoplehood" that have been destroyed by the neo-liberal policies, and to make claims in its name. The paper will compare various the most salient cases of popular mobilization, and the specific political contexts that facilitate the movement, and the different political dynamics they provoke.