Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation

Jeffrey S. Juris

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Juris, J. S. (1). Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation. American Ethnologist, 39(2), 259–279.

Globalization , Inequality , New Technologies , Political Protests , Public Space , Social Media , Social Movements

This article explores the links between social media and public space within the #Occupy Everywhere movements. Whereas listservs and websites helped give rise to a widespread logic of networking within the movements for global justice of the 1990s–2000s, I argue that social media have contributed to an emerging logic of aggregation in the more recent #Occupy movements—one that involves the assembling of masses of individuals from diverse backgrounds within physical spaces. However, the recent shift toward more decentralized forms of organizing and networking may help to ensure the sustainability of the #Occupy movements in a post eviction phase.

Main finding
The author argues that an integration of both network and aggregate logics of political mobilization set a foundation for increased inclusivity of diverse peoples and the potential for a more sustainable struggle during the #Occupy era. With an aggregate of individuals taking hold of physical space they realized its importance both as a means to contest the state's sovereign power over the control of bodies and as a space appropriated in the name of democratic expression. The occupation became a physical embodiment of the world view engendered in the #Occupy Everywhere movement. In another case, the forced eviction of occupiers prompted a shift toward a decentralized networking of physical sites and strategic aims at diversity and renewed the movement under a combined logic of both networking and aggregation.

Description of method used in the article
Ethnographic documentation of the #Occupy Boston encampment via participant observation guided by key questions. The author asked, how do new forms of media matter in the emergence of new forms, patterns, and structures of political movements? and, how are both the physical spaces and technology-aided forms of communication co-constitutive? The author used a semiotic framework of cultural logic (i.e.. networking logic) to understand the how the actions of others is shaped by our own interactions with networking technology which then gives rise to specific forms of social and political networking practices.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Other or N/A
Field Observations
Physical types