Protesters during the Great Depression

Protesters during the Great Depression

While it may seem like Occupy Wall Street is unique in its approach to protesting, according to Gary Gerstle, a Vanderbilt professor of American history and social movements, the OWS movement is similar to the protests that ¬†occurred during the Great Depression. Capitalism had developed rapidly, creating a huge rift between classes, which exacerbated the split between rich and poor. Today there is another huge rift appearing between the rich and the poor, between the 1% and the 99%. However, Gerstle makes the point that the major difference between now and the 1930s is the “relative lack of protest.” According to Gerstle, during the Great Depression, people were flooding the streets, raising their concerns. However, today, there seems to be a lack of people flooding the streets everywhere. Most of the movements today happen in the large cities in the country, like New York, Washington, and Seattle, but in the 1930s, people were protesting everywhere. However, what the people during the Great Depression didn’t have was the power of the Internet. Maybe that is what will separate the OWS movement from the past protests in American history.



6 responses to “Protesters during the Great Depression

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Any specific numbers to show the difference between the Depression protests and now (per capita, of course). Real world examples with data would make this a much stronger post.

  2. The idea that there is a lack of protesting, in comparison to the Great Depression, is a really interesting one, and one I would not think of on my own. Most people do not know how the protests were lead during the Great Depression; that was not an aspect of the time that I was ever taught in school. More so, when the Occupy movement was first beginning to spread outside of New York, it seemed like it was gaining a lot of momentum and that it was going to be this incredible, life-changing movement. Although it is clear that it is not such anymore, it is still surprising to hear that, in comparison to other movements in history, the turnout is disappointingly low. I’d like to hear about more about different protests throughout history from you, and see how the Occupy movement compares to those as well.

  3. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street is Nothing Special | Occupy Wall Street Analysis

  4. ramblerofoccasionalbrilliance

    Do you think that the subsequent creation of Welfare after the Great Depression, and that is still in place today, has had an affect on the size of protests? This Forbes article talks about the differences in terminologies for unemployed and underemployed that have changed through the years and other similarities between both economic downturns. It says that the main difference is how the federal government has handled the situations financially with bail outs and things of that nature. It mentions welfare and medicaid. While the similarities seem be the same as far as people “living day to day” I would think that welfare keeps people scraping by just enough that they’re not protesting. That would be my assumption anyways.

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