Occupy Wall Street- Keys to success?From a Social Psycology perspective, what will be the keys to the  success or the failure of Occupy Wall Street?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One historical point to recall is that social/political/religious/financial protest movements have always been looked on with disfavor by the majority of citizens, whether in the USA or in China or in the Middle East. Protest movements, be they nonviolent gatherings of peace-intended participants or unruly gatherers who let tempers and harmful behavior fly, are by very definition (at least implicitly) violent (Gandhi notwithstanding): they adamantly challenge the accepted order--which is a violent response to that order; they reject the status quo--which is a violent denunciation of the status quo; they disrupt the normal operation of routine--which is a violent intrusion upon that order. Yet, such protests may (and have) ultimately produce good because, if such protests arise, there exists a serious disruption of ethics and liberty to compel them into existence. In this case, it would be the Enrons, the bank failures and buy-outs, the foreclosed homes, the manipulative mortgage banking and investment practices, the crashed economy, the joblessness, the astounding bonuses given to executives just before the closing of doors and dislocation of employees, etc, etc, etc.

As to success from a Social Psychology perspective, the drive for connectedness within society must be taken into account from the perspective of those who are adamant enough to risk breaking that connectedness; of those who are watching the breaking of the connectedness from outside the fringe of discontent; and of those who are responsible for evaluating the break and reestablishing social connectedness. Historically, these responsible people are the governing agents, think of Vietnam, Southern schools and civil rights, King's march on Washington, woman's liberation and NOW, and other protest movements. In each case, the government evaluated, debated, intervened where needed (think of James Meredith and the University of Mississippi), and legislated as an end result (think of Nixon and the Vietnam War; think of Johnson and the Civil Rights Act). From this, it seems that what is needed for success is a determined public insistence by some on a right principal that is plainly felt by and evidenced in the sight of those who are powerful enough to--eventually--uphold the principal at the governmental level and, once again, act morally and ethically and legislate decency and morality, this to reestablish and deepen society's valued and needed social/psychological connectedness.


belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Occupy Wall Street movement may succeed in appealing pyschologically to the rest of the American population if it succeeds in demonstrating that it is

* responsible

* non-violent

* practical in its approach to problems

* in favor of solutions that will actually be beneficial to the economy

* in tune with the basic values of the American people

may I annotate your list? The OWS movement should be:

* responsible

This story and this one make it clear that the OWS movement has no sense of responsibility. They occupy an area, make an enormous mess, and then leave it for others to clean up.

* non-violent

Well, this list speaks for itself.

* practical in its approach to problems

Hard to quantify, since the OWS approach is to stand with a sign and shout at people. However, if that were the total of their actions, something could be said for a peaceful, non-violent demonstration... but see above.

* in favor of solutions that will actually be beneficial to the economy

Unless the destruction of businesses is a solution... I don't see any real solutions coming out of OWS.

* in tune with the basic values of the American people

Well, this one I can answer with a poll. 45% of those polled do not support the OWS movement. Therefore, they are out of tune with the American people.

Now, I do agree that if they actually demonstrated these principles, they could garner favor among the public and stand a chance of their agendas being heard and taken seriously. However, as of this point, they simply have not.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, I don't think anything they do is going to make them successful with poster #5 anyways.

Protest movements, especially in the last twenty years, have not been that successful.  Americans are working long hours (when they have jobs) raising families and are much too preoccupied with the business of living to become all that aware of what the protests are about, much less participate.

While OWS has drawn media attention, there is little they can accomplish with only the protests.  Even with widespread civil disobedience, there is little chance, in the short run and probably in the long run, that the protests themselves will foster any real or long lasting reform.  Until OWS is harnessed by existing political candidates and institutions, or until the focus of their protests is on electing reform candidates, I would say their chances for success are minimal at best.

The reason they have been this resilient thus far is because the economic pain that led to OWS is both real and widespread.  Look at the 1930s during the Depression for comparisons.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They need to be persistent. They should not strive for uniformity of message, but they do certainlly need to be careful about articulating their various messages in the right-wing media, which, as post #5 demonstrates pretty clearly, are looking for individual acts of irresponsibility to apply to the whole. (For the record, Andrew Breitbart is not exactly what I'd call an unbiased soure on the movement)

It's tough, because in a way many of them are protesting against the effects of corporate expansion and power, and of course the media that cover them are in many ways instruments of that power. What they don't need to do, if they're sincere, is to give up now that they're being removed by police.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the problems with the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it is only supported by a very small percentage of the population. To be successful, it needs to expand its support base and attract new members by agreeing on clearly defined aims and the changes that it wants to see in society. At the moment, it appears that there are too many disparate groups without any form of clear leadership that have responded spontaneously to the economic situation without any clear ideas of what changes could be made.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think for the Occupy Wall Street to succeed a few things need to take place. First, the economy has to worsen quite a bit. If it does, then there will be more people out of work and more outrage at the bailouts and huge pay bonuses of Wall Street. Second, banks and big corporations need to have a few more scandals to show that they are out of touch with the rest of the public. Third, as post three suggests, the protestor need to prove to the people that the injustices are due to unfair advantages.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Occupy Wall Street movement may succeed in appealing pyschologically to the rest of the American population if it succeeds in demonstrating that it is

* responsible

* non-violent

* practical in its approach to problems

* in favor of solutions that will actually be beneficial to the economy

* in tune with the basic values of the American people

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, what they are going to have to do is to convince average Americans that OWS's view of inequality is the correct one.  They are going to have to convince the public that inequality is caused not by valid differences between individuals (talent, motivation, etc) but rather by invalid actions on the part of "the 1%" that set society up in ways that favor them.


literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both posters prove to provide very relevant suggestions. I, too, agree with the movement's need to be non-violent. OWS also needs to gain the support of the Americans who have failed to see the problems which OWS is bringing to the surface.

johnsmeth30 | Student

Is this really an answer to occupy wall street for sucess.




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simoncat | Student

A lot of good points have been shared on this topic. As kind of a side note, I thought our little discussion in English 12 today has some relevance. We are finishing Orwell's 1984. The subject of the Proles came up and, in particular, why they didn't revolt. The Proles living within the lowest common denominator without education to know any different was the main point discussed. As long as the  Proles were kept complacent through no education and the freedom to indulge in their primal desires (Lottery,sex, alcohol.....), there was little to motivate them to rebel. Many students felt there were definite links between the Proles and an increasing segment of the "have not" population today. Even seventeen year old teenagers realize that the collapse of an adequately funded public education system is the beginning of the end.

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improvvideo | Student

"Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a resistance movement of people who want Wall Street, the government and corporations to realize that individuals have the power to create change from the bottom-up." Are you sure the changes come from bottom? I have many doubts. A think from Italy.


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