The use of social media technologies to create awareness and organise protests and “camp-ins” last year (and some continue today) was the first time these tools were used on an international scale. This is unprecedented in the history of mankind, at such speed and with incredibly well organised precision. As the Occupy protests lengthened, most often, it would seem, those protestors featured by many news media channels were the down-and-out, hippies and young students disenfranchised. Stories of partying, drugs and alcohol seemed the perfect fodder. But were they? Are they? We did some digging to analyse just who is online and who makes up the Occupy movement. What we found was not what we thought we would find.
Forget About Youth In Occupy Movement – The Demographics
It wasn’t just a bunch of university students. In fact, as we analysed the age groups, we found the average age to actually be 36. We also found that across the 5,000 profiles and commentaries we looked at, over 50% had a university education. We also found they weren’t poor either. Perhaps the “working poor” – yes. We estimate an average income of about $45,000CAD from USA, Canada and UK. We suspect this median would hold up in many other countries as well. Certainly there were those who are on the margin of society and the students or youth movement. But they do not represent the majority. Involved were doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs.
Nor was there racial or religious divide. All forms of faith and races were represented as were men and women.
It’s Not A Union Driven Thing
That unions played a key part there is no doubt. Unions have and likely will continue to, play a key role. But unions, mentions of unions and references to union messages we estimate were less than 10% of the overall social media engagement. The Occupy movement is not owned or being driven by unions. The unions help in rallying and organising but it is being driven not by any one organisation. It is truly driven by the average citizen.
Activist Groups & Agitators
While some may suspect underlying activist groups with more radical agendas, this doesn’t appear to be the case. We found little evidence of more fringe, radical activist groups. The organisations that support the Occupy Movement are more socially oriented, those that are necessary in a functioning democratic society.
Our Summary Conclusion
While we haven’t provided all the detail of our research here, we can quickly surmise that the Occupy Movement is international in nature, it is still active and likely to become increasingly more organised. What started out in anger and protest with no defined agenda has developed an agenda and is refining that agenda. This is truly a movement more of the disenfranchised middle class who are also looking to the margins of society to help them as well.
Our forecast is that we will see increased Occupy activity and a clearer agenda form. There will likely be “fractioning” of the movement, if it can be said to be organised enough for there to be fractions occurring. Even the thought leaders of Davos have realized this is a serious societal issue of significant scale across multiple countries. We suspect the Occupy Movement to be a significant indicator towards a demand for greater change within current political systems.