History Students use materials drawn from the diversity of human experience to analyze and interpret significant events, patterns and themes in the history of Ohio, the United States and the world. By the end of the K-2 program: Use a calendar to determine the day, week, month and year.
Oxford University Press, Occupy was the largest political mobilization of my lifetime. The explosion of energy it produced gave the feeling of perpetuity, with thousands of volunteers supporting each other through donations of food and standing together in solidarity against the police.
But as the encampments became rooted, many had to check their excitement with a growing sense of disillusionment. It was clear that the Occupy strategy, and how it played out in practice, was rife with weaknesses that were ultimately exploited by those who sought to destroy Occupy and the discourse that it created.
The making of the 99 percent movement is a post-Occupy analysis of the movement from an on-the-ground first-person perspective.
The author, Michael A.
Gould-Watofsky, is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at New York University, studying social movements. Gould-Wartofsky sets out to answer a series of questions by dissecting Occupy from the inside-out, beginning his inquiry with the historical root of the occupy strategy.
Birthed from the devastation of the global financial crisis and nurtured in an Internet age that allowed for the easy reproduction of memes, the occupation of Zuccotti Park stood on the shoulders of the occupations that came before it in Egypt, Spain, and Wisconsin.
The final chapters aim to explore the relationships that the Occupiers had nurtured or neglected with activist institutions at-large on the local, national, and international levels. Considering the threats to validity that stem from full immersion, I was impressed by his critical stance towards the occupation.
The text lays out a dense web of facts about the occupation of Zuccotti Park and how it was run — dispelling rumors that were untrue while adding to the arsenal of critiques of all ideological persuasions.
The schism within the occupiers ran deep. Their idea of a mass movement is a lot of people that agree with them. The facts that Gould-Wartofsky presents tell this story; the elephant in the room is the role of social science in radical politics, a role that I contend is not one of simply gathering facts but rather a role that influences what one chooses to do with the facts.
What kinds of trends, findings, and observations can be derived from the facts, and how can they be organized in a way that leads to a richer understanding of social phenomena?
Otherwise, there is nothing that separates a well researched work of political journalism from the insight into social life that we entrust to social scientists.
It is a critical reflection on methodology, and what sorts of evidence one hopes to generate from their choice of methods, that divides the two mutually beneficial yet distinct genres. In other words, does one write about Occupy strictly from the perspective of what happened inside the encampments, or do the actions and activities of the encampments open up a window into a deeper insight of the operation of social movements in the 21st century?
If not, then my critique is an ontological one — I believe there is a reality that exists outside of the subject being studied that can influence the subject and ethnography is a tool to study how the subject encapsulates the norms, cognitive patterns, language, and beliefs of that wider reality.
If yes, then there are serious questions as to whether he has been able to extend his scope outward enough to encompass the roots of the movement and structural and causal mechanisms that have influenced it. So how does Gould-Wartofsky feel about method?
To justify his use of participant observation, and to explain his methodological choice, he cites three works which contradict each other.
The first, Ethnography Unbound: Power and Resistance in the Modern Metropolis edited by Marxist sociologist and ethnographer Michael Burawoy, is a collection of participant observation studies from a graduate course that Burawoy taught on the topic. Transnational Activism, Ethnography, and the Political.
Rather it generates new concepts and analyses in the process of ethnographic engagement. It is the methodological stance that Burawoy places on the opposite end of the spectrum from his own extended case method. Gould-Wartofsky engages with some aspects of grounded theory as when, for example, he poses a series of working hypotheses that he generates after his immersion into Zuccotti rather than frameworks that he used to think about the issues a priori.
This paper argues for the dissolution of the distinction between participant and observer, holding the extreme position on the spectrum between full participant and complete observer.
This seems at odds with Burawoy who states, in the introduction of Ethnography Unbound, that participant observation should not be reduced to postmodern concerns of textual analysis, what he likens to literary criticism. He states that he was an activist before Occupy and therefore he was already connected with the lead organizers before the event.
This has, arguably, given him unprecedented access into the occupations, and allows for a considerable amount of rapport with gatekeepers.
The issue not discussed by Gould-Wartofsky or the authors of the SSRC working paper, is that the structural mechanisms of consensus operate both ways; on the one hand consensus forces all participants and participant-observers to become engaged with the decision-making process, while on the other hand it disallows the neutrality necessary to counter bias.
This is a consequence of the political problems associated with consensus — minorities are not able to make a reasoned dissent and both sides must compromise on their own principles.
A mixed method approach that is crafted in the debate between epistemological and ontological viewpoints is always useful in order to be creative with the ways that a researcher seeks to encounter and understand social phenomenon, instead of being a slave to a partisan methodological viewpoint.
He generalizes between occupations when interviewing actors from different encampments, in the tradition of the extended case method, but does not observe how super-structural causes could have affected Occupy.Explain the actual curricular pursuits.
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