What would be a critical evaluation of Occupy Wall Street?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A critical evaluation of the Occupy Wall Street movement would look at what the movement is trying to accomplish and how it is trying to accomplish it.  It would look at the likelihood that the movement will succeed in achieving its goals.

I would argue that OWS is not at all likely to achieve its goals.  One of the main things that a social movement has to do is to get a large percent of the general public to be firmly on its side.  Those people have to put pressure on the government to do what the movement wants.

OWS will have seriously problems with this for at least two reasons.  First, it does not have clear goals.  People will have a hard time getting behind a movement with goals as amorphous as OWS's are.  Secondly, OWS has not been as good as, say, the Civil Rights Movement in protecting its image and projecting a good image to the public.  Unlike the Civil Rights Movement's marchers, the OWS people are not good at projecting a respectable and likeable image to the public.

For these reasons, I would argue that a critical evalutation of OWS reveals a movement that is likely to fail.

imperfectlaura | Student

Essential to all evaluations is the criteria with which you are evaluation.  For instance, as the poster above pointed out, if you want to look at the likelihood of OWS acheiving it's goals, it's unlikely.  Perhaps the biggest reason for this is that it lacks a set of demands.  It's pretty difficult to get what you want if you don't explicitly state what you want.

Another reason might be that they don't have a key group of leaders.  Let's take a look at a successful movement, the Civil Rights movement.  They had definable leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr., who articulated their desires and was a point of organization for the movement.  Intentionally, Occupy Wall Street lacks this, but this may be to their detriment.

Evaluating it differently, we can look at the success OWS is having in spreading its message.  In this way, it's hard to argue that they're not successful to some degree.  The biggest thing they have done is use social media to get people "following" them and to reach an audience they might not be able to reach at CNN.com.  However, their public protests and celebrity endorsements have gained them attention from the news media.

With any critical evaluation, the criteria is essential to the evaluation, and OWS proves it.  While they may be unsuccessful at acheiving any tangible change, they are successful at spreading their message.