Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Frances Fox Piven

Committee Members

Ruth Milkman

Stephen Brier

Subject Categories

Other Political Science


labor, social movements, revitalization, diffusion


There is widespread agreement that the Occupy Wall Street mobilization reshaped American public life. The mobilization which took the stage on September 17, 2011 decried corporate abuse, rising inequality, and political corruption. Since its emergence in 2011, there has been a proliferation of scholarship on this critical movement episode. Conspicuously absent in this body of research, particularly within the field of social movement studies, is any focus on labor specifically as it relates to movement “spillover,” diffusion, or consequences. Through a set of case studies, this research examines the extent to which Occupy Wall Street alters the political opportunity structure for parts of U.S. labor. As the case evidence reveals, not only did the mobilization provide an enduring narrative shift that names inequality as the central consequence of forty years of neoliberal hegemony; it also contributes to building organizational capacity, aiding in the development of new networks, and opens up space and support for a pivot and innovation in strategies and tactics