Occupy Wall Street Essays

These were the first two mentions of #occupywallstreet on Twitter (Howard). From there, the hashtag was gradually tweeted and retweeted. The chain of tweets can be visualized using Trendistic, a service which tracks trends on Twitter. By September 16, the day before the protests were set to begin, Trendistic shows that #occupywallstreet represented 1 out of every 500 hashtags created in New York (Howard). While hashtags were not the only way that word about the movement was spread, they certainly helped it gain momentum. An estimated 5000 people gathered on September 17 in Zuccotti Park, an area in the Financial District of New York, and 300 people slept there in tents that night (Lasn & White).

John D. H. Downing discusses the relationship between radical media and social movements in his chapter, Social Movements, the Public Sphere, Networks. Occupy Wall Street falls into his model of social movements as rational actors. In this model, "members of the general public, because they lack property and are often impoverished, have to generate alternative resources to wield influence over the political and allocation process. These alternative resources consist of such collective actions as strikes, sit-ins, occupations, demonstrations, go-slows and traffic blocking," (Downing, 24). Occupy Wall Street, a movement initiated on behalf of those without wealth or state power, uses almost all of these tactics. Downing writes that radical media and social movements are acutely interrelated, as "movement upsurges appear both to generate and to be stimulated by radical media," (23). Social and citizen media promote Occupy Wall Street at the same time as the ongoing protests generate further instances of these media. Furthermore, they have the potential to shape social movements, although "their power is misperceived because they are not stereotypical mainstream media," (Downing, 27).

An alternative to mainstream media

Social and citizen media are critical to Occupy Wall Street because they are autonomous from corporate and government power and provide an alternative to mainstream media. Occupy Wall Street protestors distrust the mass media because it represents the very corporate structure that the movement is speaking out against. The American media landscape is dominated by just a few massive corporations that have concentrated their control over what citizens see, hear and read. In many cases, these giant companies are vertically integrated, controlling everything from initial production to final distribution. As Herman and Chomsky write, "In countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a state bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media... makes it clear that the media serve the ends of a dominant elite," (1). A prime example of this is the mainstream media coverage of Occupy Wall Street. American mass media outlets commonly portray the protestors as rebels without a cause; dirty, homeless, ignorant, voiceless, disorganized, liberal, un-American, unemployed and violent (Anonymous). In the following clip, a reporter from FOX News infiltrates and mocks Occupy Wall Street. The anchor who introduces the segment describes the protestors as follows:

"From political talking points, to smoking lots of joints, when does a protest become grotesque?  Right around the fifth filthy day of a sit-in/live-in demonstration at a park near Wall Street, where 300 half-naked trust funders have gathered together for something called a Day of Rage Rally.  And the anti-big business bohemians plan on squatting there until their unintelligible demands are met.”

The Occupy Wall Street Movement Essay

1049 Words5 Pages

Occupy Wall Street has been called many things including: unfocused, ungrounded, and silly. Others coin it as “America’s first internet-era movement” (Rushkoff). In quintessence, Occupy Wall Street is a series of protests and demonstrations that oppose the influence that corporate greed has on American Democracy. The protestors manipulate marches and nonviolent demonstrations to express their dissatisfaction with the state of American Politics and economy. This relates to the political science concepts of power, performance democracy, and protective democracy.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is a succession of protests that have no formal leader and no formal demands. The concept behind this form of movement is that each person…show more content…

The 99 percent consists of average Americans whose homes are being foreclosed upon, who have accrued colossal student loan debt and are most affected by economic setbacks. A definition of power is the “ownership, control, and distribution of resources”. In this way, the 99 percent is powerless in America because they lack the ability to exist independently of the one percent who has the power over the nation’s resources. The one percent has an advantage in its ability to influence the government and public policy. The protestors point to many societal problems as evidence of this inequality. Some of these examples are unequal access to healthcare, poverty, exorbitant student loan debt, unemployment, and unfair practices in the housing market. These are all indicators of the unequal distribution of resources and subsequently power that Occupy Wall Street denounces.
Performance democracy is characterized by “governmental outputs in the form of laws and policies that are a reflection of a self-governing people’s desire for well-being” (Grigsby). The protestors of Occupy Wall Street contend that American laws and policies do not reflect the interests of the majority of the population. The current laws and policies, according to members of the movement, only benefit the wealthy one percent of the population. The protestors stand against the elitist nature of capitalism that inhibits adequate performance in the form of laws and

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