Occupy Movement

Social movements do not have to be successful or actually change anything they just have to be a group of people who are unceasingly committed to a common goal or belief in something. In Persuasion in Society, Simons and Jones state that, “a social movement is an uninstitutionalized collectivity that operates on a sustained basis to exert external influence in behalf of a cause” (p. 480). Social movements can be focused on keeping a status quo, which are called resistive movements that have no interest in progress or change.  Some social movements are restorative which seek to create a return to an older way of life. Reformist movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, “generally seek passage of particular laws, better enforcement of particular laws, replacement of corrupt or incompetent officials, and so on”(Simon & Jones, p. 481). Other social movements only seek to change individuals believing that change in institutions can be made through changes in people; these are called expressivist movements. The final category of social movements that Simon and Jones identify is revolutionary movements, which seek to replace existing dominant institutions, ideologies or entire regimes. Social movements can be made up of components that are institutionalized such as the NAACP during the Civil Rights Movement but are as a whole uninstitutionalized.

I have chosen to focus on the Occupy Movement because I believe that it fulfills all of the requirements of the definition of a social movement and because I find this movement extremely compelling. From my understanding the Occupy Movement can be either a reformist or revolutionary movement depending on which Occupier you speak to. The Occupiers all seem to share the belief that something needs to change drastically in this country but this movement has very few clear demands. However, this can be view in two ways: either the movement is disorganized and only wishes to change a couple of things that they feel are wrong or corrupt about the country or they are not making clear demands because they want a revolutionary replacement of the current system for the sake of something new. This movement is by nature uninstitutionalized because it is protesting against the financial institutions and the governmental institutions in this country. This movement began in New York on Wall Street and it has spread across the globe to places from Oakland, Ca to Spain and Australia and it continues to spread and grow. This social movement’s primary slogan is “We are the 99%” referring to the concentration of wealth in America to the top 1% and some of the clearest goals of the movement are tax hikes on the rich and bank reform to prevent another recession like the one we are currently in.

The artifact that I have chosen to evaluate is a poster in big bold black and red letters that state, “You have the right to remain silent and let the1r money speak for you (or you can demand to be heard)” at the bottom it says “Occupy Together”.  I found this poster on a few different Occupy related websites, in many pictures of actual protesters on the streets and on a t-shirt for sale. The quote on this poster is likely to reach many audiences because it is highly visible on the web on various Occupy related sites and in reality both at Occupy protests and on any random street where one could see it on the shirt of a passing pedestrian. The artifact was persuasive to me because it very obviously points out that money is controlling this country , with the 1 symbolizing the 1% in “the1r money “, and you can be quiet and let it happen or you can Occupy and demand a voice. It also uses the term “you” to speak to the reader directly, it is much more personal and so much more persuasive because you can more easily connect to its message. The beginning format of the statement, “You have the right to remain silent…” implies that they (the 1%) and their money are imprisoning you. But it concludes with, “(or you can demand to be heard)” in smaller print giving the audience hope that we can change our country through the Occupy Movement.   I believe that this artifact and the movement’s primary slogan “We are the 99%” are extremely persuasive because literally 99% of the population could identify with them. Even if people don’t agree with the movement’s ideas or goals they are still part of the 99% based on the statistics of wealth in this country. Because of the nature of this movement it is made up of people across all demographics: race, gender, class, employment status, income, marital status, and more; there are doctors, skaters, lawyers, students, the homeless, college professors and more. Sadly the 1% control most of the major news outlets in this country so this movement has not been and will not be widely reported on in the mainstream media. One of the slogans of the movement is “This revolution will not be televised.” It is up to the 99% to seek out information, change, reform and revolution.
Lexi Welborn
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