See you on Wall St. Sept 17. Bring Tent: Occupy Wall Street, Framing, and Mobilisation
The phenomenon of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has been widely discussed in the academic and popular discourse. Of its many contributions, the language of the Occupy Movement has had a profound influence on contemporary discussions about inequality – contrasting the ‘99%’ with the ‘1%’ is now a permanent part of the conversation. However, despite this discursive shift, the literature has yet to seriously consider how the ideational elements of OWS influenced its mobilisation. While changing the dominant discourse is an important achievement, mobilising collective action around a cause remains an essential task for social movements. To explain social movement mobilisation, this thesis utilises the framing perspective, which seeks to understand why and how certain ideas are able to inspire or inhibit collective action. By using qualitative analysis of movement texts over time, this thesis has constructed the key frames articulated in selected OWS documents over the course of its serious efforts to mobilise. More specifically, it has examined whether changes in the movement’s use of diagnostic, prognostic, motivational, and identity frames can explain the trajectory of mobilisation. The central argument is that the framing perspective can offer a plausible explanation for the mobilisation of OWS; a correlation between changes in framing and expected changes in mobilisation can be observed. However, while the findings of this thesis fill one important part of the puzzle, in order to corroborate the arguments put forward here future research must consider the way the frames proffered by OWS were actually received and acted (or not acted) upon by potential participants. By doing so, we can not only gain a more perceptive insight into this topical phenomenon, but also improve our understanding of the nature and dynamics of contemporary social movements.