It is likely obvious even to the layperson that the Occupy movement is a unique development in the world’s history of protest and public demonstration, and more sociologists are taking note.
In fact, sociology departments in universities across the country have taken up the issue in practice and study, with focus areas that include the movement’s duration, its ability to cross international borders and cultures, and its organic and evolving nature that allows it to shift targets and platforms.
Ironically, the movement’s ability to evolve so rapidly to absorb and respond to societal problems is one of the things that is making it so difficult for academicians to study it. Sociologists are often accustomed to studying slow societal change over time, but the galvanizing nature of the movement and its persistence make it a thing that requires adaptive study while frustrating those efforts at the same time.
The most proactive observers of the Occupy phenomenon are taking to the streets to collect photographic and verbal narratives of the protests and the protestors. What is commonly found is that while the protests can be seen to form around whatever is perceived to be a societal ill, the protestors cannot be so easily categorized. They are young and old, working and unemployed, married and single, and of every creed and color.
What they are typically not are those who fall in the “1 percent” – the extremely wealthy who Occupy protestors believe hold the purse strings to the government and therefore have usurped the governing power and upward mobility of the average American.
Sociologists may never find a suitable definition for the “typical” Occupier or be able to articulate a comprehensive explanation for why the movement has endured, but there are ample signs to suggest that they will have more time to study it as it continues to grow and evolve.
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