FAQs: Researching the “Occupy” Movement

I’m a communication studies student interested in doing a research project on Occupy Wall Street and related “Occupy” movements. What resources do you recommend I use to get started?


Ah yes, the “Occupy” research challenge. This is a topic that I’ve been hearing about a lot from students this semester — and for good reason.

Cartoon from Gallery "90 Occupy Wall Street cartoons" (OC Register)     Cartoon from Gallery "90 Occupy Wall Street cartoons" (OC Register)

First, it’s a highly contemporary topic that’s generated a lot of polarized media coverage.

Second, it’s a topic that ties in well to classicly “hot” communication issues like political communication, citizen journalism, and the intersection between social media and social change.

Third, it’s a movement that we can personally observe taking place, both here in DC and at major cities around the world. After all, what says “research me!” quite like news that takes place in your own backyard?

Demonstrators march through the streets of Washington Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, as part of Occupy DC activities in the nation's capital.

Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Anyway, while my recommended list of resources inevitably varies from person to person and topic to topic, here’s a basic list of websites and databases that I might suggest to a COMM student interested in researching the current “Occupy” movement.

“Occupy” Research:  Primary Sources

  • OccupyWallStreet.org – the “unofficial de facto online resource for the growing occupation movement happening on Wall Street and around the world.” Contains a forum, chat tool, and user map.
  • Occupy Together – a “hub for all of the events springing up across the world in solidarity with the Occupy Wall St. movement.” Contains links to free poster materials, as well as an “Actions & Directory” section.
  • #OccupyWallStreet on Flickr – Flickr group, described as an “open group pool for photos and short video taken at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City on 17 September 2011 and after.” Approximately 600 members.
  • We Are the 99% – Tumblr site, in which contributors post pictures with the tag line “I am the 99 percent.”
  • Declaration of the Occupation of NYC – Online “declaration” document accepted by the NYC General Assembly on 9/29/11. This declaration is often referred to by other “Occupy” resources.

“Occupy” Research: Background Info & Statistics

  • Times Topics: Occupy Wall Street – New York Times topic page with background information, articles, and links relevant to “Occupy Wall Street.”
  • Mother Jones: “Occupy” movement protest map – Includes an interactive map, charts, and a timeline of relevant events.
  • NYT: Public Opinion & the Occupy Movement – Interactive with results from a recent NYT/CBS News public opinion poll.
  • Gallup.com – Excellent resource for public opinion reports and statistics. Search on “Occupy Wall Street” or “Occupy Movement” for relevant findings.
  • Pew Research Center – A “nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” As with Gallup.com, search on “Occupy Wall Street or “Occupy Movement” to discover relevant reports and poll results.
  • Guardian Data Blog’s “Occupy” Analysis – A data-packed blog entry from the Guardian’s Data Blog (11/16/2011). Includes links to online data sources and a summary video.
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Data – the BLS is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. Useful for researching unemployment numbers.
  • Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics – the official website of the IRS. This statistics page contains a wide range of tables, articles, and data that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system.

“Occupy” Research – Library Databases

  • AP Images & Interactives – excellent source for images, audio recordings, and other media relevant to the Occupy movements. Searchable by georgraphy, subject, photographer, and more. AU login required.
  • Gallup Brain – a database with Gallup articles and polls going back over 70 years. Use to search for historic public opinion data, or for recent reports on the “Occupy movment.” Please note you must choose to search “questionnaires” or “documents.”AU login required.
  • Academic Search Premier – multidisciplinary database that contains popular and trade publications as well as scholarly publications. A good choice for researchers interested in articles from magazines such as Time or Newsweek. AU login required.
  • Factiva – one of the library’s two powerful aggregate news databases (along with LexisNexis Academic). Use to find newspaper coverage of the Occupy protests. Please note that this is the best database for researchers interested in Wall Street Journal coverage. AU login required.

Have a suggestion for an additional website or database? Leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter (@robinlibrarian) and I’ll add it to this list.


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