Inside the Brain of Occupy Wall Street

If Occupy Wall Street was a walking, talking individual, how would it operate?  What would it think?  In other words, how do the basic principles of human psychology work to explain the Occupy Wall Street movement?

The answer is not an easy one.  In fact, it’s really not a singular answer at all.  Occupy Wall Street, because of its diversity (we’re not talking race here, we’re talking everything! Think motives, people, places, times, etc), is almost impossible to peg into one (or even a few) psychological theories.

As explained in my previous posts, any one theory can be applied in a number of ways to the movement.  For example, group dynamics can make the movement either stronger or weaker, depending on the people and their goals.  These goals are nearly impossible to identify, as explained in Eimilealoisia’s post.  Even when a singular set of goals is created, it is rejected by the rest of the movement.  Without goals, the movement can hardly be deemed a success or failure, and without that kind of judgment, the direction and effectiveness of group dynamics is also hard to pin down.  Similarly, Eimilealoisia explains people’s motives for joining the movement.  Since so many individuals, groups, and nations are involved, nearly everyone has a different personal reason for their support or condemnation of the movement.  Therefore, to explain the movement as a whole’s theoretical reasons for acting the way it does would be illogical and unsuccessful.

Another psychological aspect of the movement relates to leadership.  As explained in my two posts on the issue (which can be accessed here and here), lack of leadership can be either harmful or helpful to a movement depending on its goals (which OWS has not defined…as you can see the argument gets circular here).  And lack of leadership it most certainly is.  OWS prides itself on not naming specific leaders.  Even those who speak in the General Assembly are not viewed as leaders, as explained by Meechiepeachie in A General Intro of the General Assembly.

Issues that define OWS’s core (its “brain” so to speak) such as lack of leadership, an absence of specific demands, and an array of varying motivations to join are what make the movement so hard to define in just a few words.

In other words, Occupy Wall Street is just too diverse in its mechanics to explain using just a few psychological theories.  Occupy Wall Street is leaderless, it involves deindividuation and group dynamics, it refuses to define itself with goals.  It cannot be explained with the same theories that explain the human mind, and for that reason the movement is larger than life.

Jenna

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