Student Research Projects

Mythbusting the Occupy Movement

Student Michael Haverly,
Marisa Postma,
Dale Sparks,
Daniel Bowman
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Political Science
Course POLS 499


The series of Occupy protests that swept across the globe in 2011-2012 have been hailed as a new social movement phenomenon. Both supporters and opponents of Occupy argue the movement is unique because of the use of social media as a tool of mobilization, the leaderless structure and the localized organizational framework. This project tests the uniqueness hypothesis by comparing assertions of originality about the Occupy mission, organization, leadership, tools, membership and success with the academic literature on social movements, analyzing how the Occupy movements do or do not fit into existing theoretical frameworks. In examining the Occupy protests, we use both academic and media sources, but also draw on a group conversation we had with local participants of Occupy Norfolk.