Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ira Shor

Subject Categories

Communication | Rhetoric | Urban Studies and Planning


anarchism, critical discourse analysis, finance, occupations, oppositional discourse, spatial discourses


This dissertation examines the rhetoric and discourses of the anti-corporate movement Occupy Wall Street, using frameworks from political ethnography and critical discourse analysis to offer a thick, triangulated description of a single event, Occupy Wall Street's occupation of Zuccotti Park. The study shows how Occupy achieved a disturbing positionality relative to the forces which routinely dominate public discourse and proposes that Occupy's encampment was politically intolerable to the status quo because the movement held the potential to consolidate critical thought and action. Because the "soft" means of re-capturing public consent were weak in 2011 because of the 2008 economic collapse, the dominant figure in this encounter, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, led the way to instruments of "hard" persuasion, culminating in the orchestrated assault carried out on November 15th, an operation that saw the media sequestered, at night, in the dark, with no filmed images allowed or possible, and all street access blocked to supporters of Occupy. The use of "hard persausion" by the authorities in response to Occupy's discursive threat clarifies how reality is constituted through discursive and material action and suggests that alternative discourse and action has the power to reconstitute reality, redistributing power and working in opposition to human suffering and oppression.