The theory of ‘in place’ and ‘out of place’ tends to stratify the society on the basis of the correct placement of each social stratum. These strata could rely on economic affluence, ideologies, gender, race or religion. This phenomenon is an interesting focal point, when examining the instances when geography intersects with social ideologies of a particular setting (Cresswell, 1996). Therefore, the societal expectations make individuals behave in a certain manner when he/she occurs in a particular setting, and any consequence that may accompany their defiance is blamed more on the correctness of the place rather than on the explicit nature of the occurrence (Hubbard, Kitchin, & Valentine, 2010). This research proposal is designed to look at a situation in the social setting that depicts the society’s correctness in relation to place and how this correctness or incorrectness affects them or the surrounding society in that particular place both explicitly and implicitly. The real time study of Occupy Wall Street Movement was chosen as a phenomenon worth analysing.
Purpose of the research
The purpose of this research paper is to critically examine the situation upon which the aspects of social expectations with regard to the society’s way of life are related to space. It will cast a light on different facets of place away from just the spatial implications. Various instances in which an individual taking a particular social place is expected to behave in a certain way will be analyzed looking at the real life occurrences that made the phenomenon explicitly reveal itself in a social setting in a real time.
In attempt to bring out the situation in a more realistic manner and in a way that people can relate with, this research paper focuses on the Occupy Wall Street Movement, a kind of uprising that began in September 2011. Inspired by the uprisings in the Arab world that have been associated with ushering in revolutionary changes in favor of the oppressed majority (Gelder, 2011), the movement was on the forefront in demand for a fair share of equality in economic, social and political arenas. Hence, the argument will be based on whether there is a relationship between the ways in which the protesting behave in airing their demands and places where they gather with reference to the social structure.
Occupy Wall Street abbreviated as OWS is a movement that began in Zuccoti Park in New York on September 17th 2011 after being contrived by Adbuster, an activists group based in Canada. The aim of the protest was to disapprove the prevalence economic disparity among the Americans which led to the emergence of social alienation among the middle class and the poor by the few economically affluent people who were perceived to be in control of the Wall Street Business District. In addition, they strongly opposed the participation of the corporate and financial institutions in the political arena, among other basic social wrongs, such as a high rate of unemployment and corruption that have been associated with difficulties of survival among the majority (Apps, 2011). According to Apps (2011), the strikers considered themselves as the representatives of the majority that were unemployed, homeless and did not enjoy medical and social benefits, while the political elite and their corporate cronies seemed to benefit from the system.
Lower Manhattan has not been spared from the rampant riots and uprisings due to its connection with financial system and the economy (History.com Staff). The overall intent of Occupy Wall Street was connected with those receiving end crossing and wanting to cross barriers, occupy places meant for public use or even to air their dissatisfaction. This approach could be accompanied by possible violence and severe ramifications. The use of social media was seen as a breakthrough on gathering the crowd and circumventing the administration as well spreading their blueprint.
Ideological values are a product of social expectations with regard to the conduct in a particular spatial setting (Therborn, 1980). Scholars, such as Goren Therborn (1980), have argued that an ideology could only be considered to be good or bad with regard to the place in which it was taking place rather than time. Hence, it becomes justifiable for someone to judge on the validity of an action basing his argument on the spatial setting upon which the action is taking place. While it is usually unnoticeable when individuals behave normally being “in place”, it becomes obvious when a person acts “out of place because it does not correspond to the expectations of the surrounding society, which may expose the actor to prejudice.
Studies have shown that social injustices are characterized by distinct spatial settings which are exhibited through the control and domination of space by one group of people. When the word ‘injustice’ is used, unfair treatment comes in mind and is more inclined to the issue of social morality (Smith, 1994). This implies that people who are oppressed by an economic or political system are more likely to be found in a certain locality away from their oppressors. In order for them to have their outcry given attention, they tend to move to the localities in which they believe they will catch the attention of the oppressors. Such was the case of Occupy Wall Street Movement.
The problem statement for the research paper is to critically analyze the Occupy Wall Street Movement and determine whether there is(are) any instance(s) the behavior and actions of the protestors intersect with place. The research will examine the interaction between the actions of the protestors and the place in which they decided to camp; whether they were in place to do so or they were out of place.
Significance of the problem
Zuccoti Park is a privately owned park that is accessible to the public. It was designed for recreational purpose, but on September 17th, 2011, people with absolutely different agenda started trickling in the park to protest against the Wall Street system. Thus, these people did not behave with respect to the expectations of the general public and the owners too. Hence, they were viewed to have taken their motives out of place. The NYPD was not in the capacity to install a curfew in the park to avert the strikers from being there though it seemed to be an appropriate intervention. If the park was not privately owned, the police could have used every means at their disposal to avert the entry into the park. This is because the strikers were not intending to use it in the way prescribed by the common law. If the protesters had decided to air their protests at their homes, possibly, nobody could have noticed it.
In addition, there were reported cases of theft of mobile phones and laptops among the protesters who claimed to receive police protection. In some instances, cases of sexual harassment started leaking into the press that led to setting up of tents exclusively meant for female protesters. Some cases of violence went unreported with the police blaming the strikers of infusing “three strikes policy” which discouraged the victims from reporting any physical violence inflicted upon them until the offender performed the same violence in three different occasions. The protesters claimed the police tell them to deal with their own tribulations or go back to their homes. Thus, this case presents a credible illustration of people acting out of place which draws attention from various actions. These people were denied some basic rights by the police on the claims that they were not supposed to use the park for that purpose. Various evils were inflicted upon them, which looked justifiable in the eyes of the offenders; after all they were not supposed to have camped there.
- Apps, P. (2011). Wall Street action part of global Arab Spring? Reuters.
- Cresswell, T. (1996). In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press.
- Gelder, S.V. (2011). How occupy Wall Street changes everything. In S.V. Gelder &Staff of Yes! Magazine (Eds.), This changes everything: occupy wall street and 99% movement (pp. 1-13). New York, NY: Beret-Koehler Publishers.
- History.com Staff. (2011). Wall Street: 300 Years of Protests.
- Hubbard, P., Kitchin, R. & Valentine G. (Eds.) (2010). Key Thinkers on Space and Place (2nd edn.). London: Sage.
- Smith, D. J. (1994). Geography and Social Justice. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
- Therborn, G. (1980). The Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology. New York, NY: New Left Books.