Category Archives: insights

Preliminary Findings: Occupy Research Demographic and Political Participation Survey

Overview: this is a short summary of the methodology and preliminary findings from the Occupy Research Demographic and Political Participation Survey (ORGS), followed by frequency tables from the closed-ended questions, followed by links to the full anonymized dataset (including both open-ended and closed-ended questions). Enjoy! If you download the data, please leave a comment to this page and let us know what you do with it.

 

Introduction

Inspired by the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011 in New York City, and led to a broader Occupy movement throughout the U.S. and internationally. The Occupy movement is focused on social and economic inequalities, particularly wealth and power disparities between the wealthiest 1% and everyone else, the 99%.

The Occupy Research General Demographic and Political Participation Survey (ORGS) aimed to gather information about the demographics of participants, as well as forms of civic and political participation in the Occupy movement. ORGS also included questions about forms of communication and media use within the Occupy movement. The survey was designed through a transparent and collaborative process that included Occupy participants and researchers from across the globe.

The survey was conducted from December 7th, 2011, to January 7th, 2012. A total of 5,074 surveys were collected.  This summary provides a brief overview of key findings; we expect to release more in-depth analysis over time via the project site, http://occupyresearch.net. Included here are the frequency counts and percents for the closed ended questions.

The survey was conducted by the Occupy Research Network (http://occupyresearch.net), which includes academics, activists, students, community researchers, and others, with support from DataCenter (http://www.datacenter.org), a U.S. based research organization. A list of people involved in this survey is available at http://occupyresearch.wikispaces.com/surveys#People. For more information or if you have questions, please contact owsgeneralsurvey AT gmail.com.

Methodology

We initially hoped to conduct a large number of face to face surveys at Occupy camps, following a simple random sampling method that is detailed in our manual for surveyors (http://bit.ly/OccupyResearchSurveyandGuide), as well as in a webinar presentation used to train surveyors (http://prezi.com/abentbthm65z/occupy-research-survey-training). However, prior to and during the survey period the majority of Occupy camps were raided and shut down by police.

As a result, the ORGS survey team turned to online outreach, where we used a mixed method combining systematic Facebook outreach with snowball sampling via email and social media.

We used an iMacros script to post the survey description and link to 883 Occupy related Facebook groups, using the most comprehensive list of Occupy related Facebook groups available, known as the B.E.S.T. database ( Available at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0An-A-lITWCO8dHJjVlplQklhOWNxR1YzQmZXaWN3TkE#gid=0 ). We also posted the survey to the 505 email addresses publicly associated with Occupy groups (again from the BEST database). Additionally, the site http://occupytogether.org added a link to the survey in the upper right hand corner of their site during the survey period. Finally, members of the ORGS survey team posted the survey information extensively to personal and professional networks, blogs, social media, and via twitter.

Overall, we gathered 5,074 completed surveys, the vast majority of which (5,040, or 99.3%) were completed online.

Of those (4,382) who answered the question “Where did you find the link to this survey,” 57% said via a link from Facebook, 20% from a personal contact, 12% from occupytogether.org, 7.3% from twitter, and 4% from occupyresearch.net.

Limitations

The ORGS sample is non-random and therefore does not have external validity: our findings should not be read as conclusions about the overall Occupy movement. In addition, as an online survey, we can expect our data to be deeply biased to reflect the demographics and political participation characteristics of those with greater levels of Internet access. The survey was in English only, and therefore fails to reflect non-English speakers who may be Occupy participants.  The high proportion of respondents who came to the survey via Facebook rather than in other ways also skews results – for example, in the responses to questions about recent Occupy related media use. However, the survey does contain data from several thousand self-identified Occupy movement participants, and will be of interest to anyone seeking to better understand the Occupy movement across multiple sites.

Key Findings

Involvement in Occupy Wall Street

The vast majority of people we surveyed (91.3%) report performing various activities related to the Occupy movement.

  • The most common activities are: posting on Facebook (74.3%) and holding face-to-face conversations about the movement (72.7%), followed by signing petitions (59.7%) and marching in protests (49.3%).
  • Others donate money (38.8%), food, or needed goods to a camp (23.7%); make phone calls to elected officials (23.7%); or organize events or actions (18.7%).
  • About a fifth of participants write blog posts (18.3%), while 7.9% make video about Occupy.
  • A smaller, core group of participants report getting arrested (2.3%).

Engagement with the movement in the public space is a prominent feature of participants’ experience in the Occupy movement.

  • 63.3% have been to a camp.
  • Most attend General Assemblies (68.7%) and participate in protests organized at camps (68.6%).
  • More than a third volunteer to provide food or services (41.1%), take part in workshops or events (39.5%), or participate in working groups (38%).
  • 17.2% lived or slept in camps, and 3.6% got arrested at camps.

Organizational Affiliation and Civic Engagement

The majority of survey respondents (86.8%) self-identify as participants in OWS, and more than half of them (59%) have previously been involved in other social movements.

Survey respondents are engaged in a wide range of civic and political organizations, representing the variety of civic cultures and interests characteristic of the U.S. population. However, they tend to have distinct degrees of involvement in particular organizations.

  • The majority (57%) belonge to non-profit organizations, and most respondents declare that they are active in nonprofits.
  • Although 52.5% belong to political parties, only 21.6% of respondents are actively involved.
  • Social justice groups and other volunteer associations are also preferred sites for respondents’ active involvement with their communities. Other sites of active community engagement include professional associations, cultural groups, churches or religious organizations, and affinity groups.

There are many ways in which survey respondents have taken civic action in their communities over the past year:

  • The overwhelming majority (91%) have signed petitions and boycotted or deliberately bought certain products for political, ethical or environmental reasons (89.9%).
  • More than two thirds have contacted or attempted to contact a politician or civil servant to express their views (77%) , and 67.7% have donated money or raised funds for a social or political activity.
  • Almost two thirds have taken part in demonstrations (66.6%); joined an Internet political forum or discussion group (65%); or attended a political meeting or rally in the last year (62.5%).
  • 40% have contacted or appeared in the media to express their views.

The overwhelming  majority of participants in our survey are also actively involved in electoral politics.

  • 87.3 % voted in the 2008 presidential elections, and
  • 81% % plan to vote in the November elections.

However, political preferences of survey participants are mostly fragmented, and include an important number of independents.

  • More than a third declare that they are independent or not identified with any political  party (38.4%), while almost an equal number declare that they are sympathizers with the Democratic party (37.9%).
  • The political views the rest of participants are widely diverse, consisting of many other parties and political causes (22.6%), and a small minority identifying with the Republican party (1.1%)

We found that most respondents (76.6%) voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential elections. However, voting intentions for the 2012 presidential election appeared divided and in flux.

  • 45% of participants plan to vote for the Democratic candidate,
  • 35.9% are undecided, and
  • 19.1% plan to vote for other candidates, including the candidate of the Republican party (1.9%).

 

Media Use

Among those who answered questions about usage of different types of media for news and information about the Occupy movement, survey respondents are heavy users of social media (as to be expected given the proportion of survey respondents arriving via a link from Facebook). Print and broadcast media were not used as frequently or as widely by survey respondents.

  • The majority (63.7%) report using Facebook in the past 24 hours,
  • Nearly half (43.8%) used Occupy movement websites in the past 24 hours, while a similar percent (42.6%) used word of mouth for Occupy news and information in the past 24 hours.
  • 41.5% used email, while a third used YouTube (29.2%).
  • Just a quarter (23.8%) used newspapers, blogs (23.7%), or Twitter (23.3%).
  • A fifth (19.2%) used a livestreaming video site, TV (17.3%), or radio (17.3%).

 

Who completed the survey

  • The majority (85.7%) of the people who filled out the survey are in the USA, while 14.3% live abroad.
  • More than half of the survey respondents (52.9%) identify as women, 43.7% as men, and about 1% (50) as transgender.  In regards to sexual identity, the majority identify as heterosexual/straight (76.4%), while 15.5% identify as LGBTQ.
  • The average age of survey respondents is 42. Almost half (45%) are between the ages of 25 and 44, followed by those  between 44 and 64. Two out of ten are under 25 or over 65.
  • 80.8% identify as white.  There is a diversity of other races/ethnicities including Latino/a (5.3%), Asian/Pacific Islander (5.4%),  Native American (5.3%),  and African American (2.9%).
  • Almost half (49.2%) of the respondents identify as working or lower middle class. More than half (54.4%) report that they earn less than $50,000.  Just under one third are employed full time. 8.6% report being unemployed, and 7.6% say they are underemployed.  17.6% are students.
  • Over one quarter (29.8%) have graduate degrees, followed by those that completed college (26%) or some college (23%).
  • Almost half (47.5%) of the respondents are renters, and 41.3% are homeowners. 8.6% say they live with their parents.
  • Respondents are fairly evenly split between being married/in a partnership, and single. 17.9% report having one or more children, and almost half (47.2%) say they support at least one person with their income.

 

Frequency Tables

Part 1.  Occupy Participation

Have you ever been to an Occupy camp?  (n=5070)
N Percent
Yes 3208 63.3
No 1862 36.7

 

Frequency of going to camp (n=3132)
N Percent
I live in the camp 109 3.5
I’ve been many times 1109 35.4
I’ve been a few times 1302 41.6
I’ve been once 612 19.5

 

Type of activities participated in during visits to Occupy camps. (n=3208)
N Percent
Attended a General Assembly 2203 68.7
Marched in a protest 2202 68.6
Volunteered to provide food or services to people at the camp 1320 41.1
Participated in workshops or events hosted at the camp 1266 39.5
Taken part in a Working Group 1219 38.0
Slept in an Occupy camp 552 17.2
Got arrested 114 3.6
Other (please describe activities, one per line): 837 26.1

 

Types of activities participated in related to the Occupy movement
N Percent
Posted about Occupy via Facebook, Twitter, or other social m 3770 74.3
Had a face to face discussion about Occupy 3689 72.7
Signed a petition 3027 59.7
Marched in a protest 2503 49.3
Donated money, food, or needed goods to a camp 1968 38.8
Made phone calls to elected officials 1203 23.7
Organized an event or action 948 18.7
Wrote a blog post about Occupy 930 18.3
No, I have not participated in any activity related to the O 439 8.7
Made a video about Occupy 399 7.9
Got arrested 116 2.3
Other (write in, one per line): 747 14.7

Part 2. Movement Participation

Organizational Affiliation and Civic Engagement

If the Occupy movement the first movement respondents participated in (n=4865)
N Percent
Yes 1347 27.7
No 2874 59.1
I don’t consider myself a participant 644 13.2

 

Participation and level of participation different kinds of groups or associations.
N belong, actively participate belong but don’t actively participate used to belong, do not any more have never belonged can’t choose/don’t know
Nonprofit Organization 4537 42.5 14.6 17.9 22.8 2.1
Another voluntary association 4296 29.4 10.4 24.8 27.8 7.5
Social Justice Organization 4452 28.8 14.4 11.8 40.0 5.1
Political Party 4592 21.6 30.9 16.3 28.8 2.4
Non-government Organization 4361 21.0 10.0 12.2 45.9 10.9
Professional Association 4410 19.6 18.2 16.0 41.6 4.6
Cultural Groups 4314 19.5 10.7 13.4 48.5 7.9
Affinity Group 4295 14.6 5.4 8.6 48.5 22.8
Church or Religious Organization 4441 14.6 8.3 37.0 38.4 1.7
Sports group or teams 4296 8.9 3.7 36.9 46.4 4.0
Labor Union 4479 8.0 8.1 20.9 61.3 1.7
Business Association 4288 7.8 6.4 12.2 67.5 6.1
Worker Center 4227 2.0 1.6 4.1 78.9 13.5
Participation in different forms of political and social
N In the past year Over a year ago Not done it but may Would never do it Can’t choose/don’t know
Signed a petition 4623 91.1 5.9 1.9 .7 .4
Boycotted, or deliberately bought, certain products for political, ethical or environmental reasons 4593 89.9 4.3 4.1 .8 .8
Contacted, or attempted to contact, a politician or a civil servant to express your views 4575 77.1 10.1 10.6 1.5 .7
Donated money or raised funds for a social or political activity 4545 67.7 12.9 14.6 3.0 1.8
Took part in a demonstration 4556 66.6 15.3 15.5 1.6 .9
Joined an Internet political forum or discussion group 4543 65.1 6.8 22.7 2.8 2.6
Attended a political meeting or rally 4547 62.5 18.9 15.5 2.2 1.0
Contacted or appeared in the media to express your views 4479 40.3 16.1 33.7 7.1 2.7

Part 3. Political Preferences

 

[US Respondents =3,652]

Which of the following political parties do you identify with most closely?

N

Percent

Independents/ Do not identify with any party

1401

38.4

Democratic

1383

37.9

Republican

40

1.1

Other

828

22.6

[International  Respondents]  Political Party affiliation  (n=579)
N Percent
I associate with the following political party (list forthcoming) 283 48.9
I do not identify with any party 296 51.1
[US Respondents]  Candidate voted for in the 2008 presidential election? (n=3661)
N Percent
Other candidate (please specify) 249 6.8
Barack Obama 2805 76.6
John McCain 76 2.1
Voted but decline to state candidate 64 1.7
Was too young to vote 122 3.3
Wasn’t eligible to vote 85 2.3
Did not vote 260 7.1
Total 3661 100.0

 

[International  Respondents]  If voted in most recent election (n=586)
N Percent
Yes, I voted for: (list forthcoming) 450 76.8
No, didn’t vote 84 14.3
Was too young to vote 17 2.9
Wasn’t eligible to vote for other reasons 35 6.0

 

[US Respondents]  Plan to vote in the 2012 presidential election.  (n=3652)
N Percent
Yes 2960 81.1
No 148 4.1
Undecided 443 12.1
Won’t be eligible to vote 101 2.8
Total 3652 100.0

 

[US Respondents n=3,487]

If you plan to vote, for whom do you expect to vote?

N

Percent

Democratic candidate

1569

45

Undecided

1251

35.9

Republican

66

1.9

Other

601

17.2

[International  Respondents]  Plans to vote in the next national election (n-586)
N Percent
Yes, I plan to vote for: (list forthcoming) 398 67.9
No 71 12.1
Undecided 98 16.7
Won’t be eligible to vote 19 3.2

Part 4 Media Use and Occupy

Usage of different types of sources for news and information about the Occupy movement.
N In the past 24 hours In the past week In the past month More than a month ago Never
Facebook 4383 63.7 13.3 7.7 2.5 12.8
Websites of the Occupy Movement 4376 43.8 23.1 15.7 5.8 11.7
Word of mouth 4397 42.6 28.5 16.7 5.8 6.3
Email 4399 41.5 21.1 14.3 5.8 17.4
YouTube 4316 29.2 24.4 19.5 7.2 19.8
National or international Newspaper 4270 23.8 26.3 19.6 9.0 21.2
Blogs 4225 23.7 24.2 18.3 7.3 26.5
Twitter 4202 23.3 9.4 9.5 4.6 53.2
Local Newspaper 4285 20.2 23.6 21.7 11.3 23.1
Livestreaming video site 4237 19.2 21.9 23.1 9.1 26.7
National or International Television 4163 17.3 19.4 19.8 11.2 32.2
National or international Radio 4192 17.3 19.5 17.8 9.5 35.8
Discussions at Occupy camps or face to face groups 4332 17.2 15.9 21.8 16.9 28.2
Local Radio 4247 16.8 18.1 16.7 11.1 37.3
Local Television 4196 12.2 15.4 19.4 14.0 39.0
Chat rooms / IRC 4128 7.0 5.5 6.8 7.2 73.6
Tumblr 4125 6.0 7.4 10.0 5.3 71.3
Other 1382 14.0 4.1 4.5 2.2 75.1

Demographics

 

Gender / Sexual Identity

Gender (Valid responses 4,307)
N Percent
Female 2277 52.9
Male 1881 43.7
Transgender 45 1.0
Decline to state 96 2.2
Marked multiple responses 8 0.2

 

Sexual identity  (n=4,225)
N Percent
Heterosexual/Straight 3229 76.4
Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Queer 653 15.5
Decline to state 299 7.1
Marked multiple responses 44 1.0

Age

Age (Check all that apply)
N Percent
Under 18 41 1.0
18-24 529 12.5
25-44 1910 45.0
45-64 1437 33.9
65 and over 324 7.6
Total 4241 100.0

Race / Ethnicity

[US respondents] Your race/ethnicity –(Check all that apply)
N Percent
White/Caucasian 3002 80.8
Latino/Latina 196 5.3
Native American/Indigenous 160 4.3
Asian 106 2.9
Black, African, or African-American 109 2.9
South Asian 41 1.1
Arab, Southwest Asian or North African 28 .8
Pacific Islander 25 .7
Southeast Asian 15 .4
Biracial/Multiracial/Mixed race 165 4.4
Decline to state 171 4.6

Employment / Income / Class

Employment Status in last month (Check all that apply)
N Percent
Employed full-time 1605 31.6
Student 894 17.6
Self-employed 749 14.8
Part-time 729 14.4
Unemployed 438 8.6
Retired 399 7.9
Under-Employed 388 7.6
Disabled 269 5.3
Full-time homemaker 173 3.4
Veteran 133 2.6
Temp/Per-diem 67 1.3
Seasonal 63 1.2
Armed Services (active service) 12 .2
Other (please specify) 280 5.5

 

[US respondents] What is your annual household income in U.S. dollars? (n=3641)
N Percent
No income 133 3.7
1-9,999 253 6.9
10,000-19,999 473 13.0
20,000-29,999 427 11.7
30,000-39,999 370 10.2
40,000-49,999 323 8.9
50,000-59,999 257 7.1
60,000-69,999 195 5.4
70,000-79,999 194 5.3
80,000-89,999 149 4.1
90,000-99,999 109 3.0
100,000+ 458 12.6
Decline to state 300 8.2

 

Class Identity
N Percent
Working class 1192 29.7
Lower middle class 784 19.5
Middle class 1489 37.1
Upper middle class 503 12.5
Upper class 50 1.2
Total 4018 100.0

Education

[US respondents] Educational Attainment  (n=3668)
N Percent
No formal education 1 .0
Grade school (grades 1-8) 7 .2
Some high school (9-12), no degree 54 1.5
High school, completed diploma/GED 162 4.4
Some college, no degree 842 23.0
Associates degree 240 6.5
College degree (BA, BS, AB, etc.) 955 26.0
Graduate or professional school, no degree 314 8.6
Graduate or professional degree (MA, MS, MD, JD, PhD) 1093 29.8
Total 3668 100.0

Motivations

Respondents gave 0 to 3 reasons for participating or for not participating or both.

Number of Reasons Why I Participate
0 1 2 3 TOTAL
Number of Reasons Why Not 0 911 42 59 1901 2913
1 36 19 27 199 281
2 38 17 29 256 340
3 198 12 24 1305 1539
TOTAL 1183 90 139 3661 5073
Number of Reasons Why I Participate
0 1 2 3 Total
Reasons Why No 0 18% 1% 1% 37% 57%
1 1% 0% 1% 4% 6%
2 1% 0% 1% 5% 7%
3 4% 0% 0% 26% 30%
Total 23% 2% 3% 72% 100%

Home/ Housing

Housing Status (n=4163)
N Percent
Renter 1977 47.5
Homeowner 1721 41.3
Live with parents 358 8.6
Homeless 57 1.4
Homeowner – foreclosed 50 1.2

 

Currently living in  U.S. (n=4333)
N Percent
Yes 3715 85.7
No 618 14.3

Family

Marital status (n=4311)
N Percent
Have partner/Married 2017 46.8
Single 1639 38.0
Divorced 469 10.9
Other (please specify) 186 4.3
Total 4311 100.0

 

Number of Children Support with Income  (under the age of 18)
N Percent Valid Percent
0 1677 33.1 (treat as no answer)
1 466 9.2 51.3
2 300 5.9 33.0
3 95 1.9 10.5
4 or more 47 .9 5.2
No answer 2489 49
Number of adults (over 18 years of age) support with income
N Percent
0 965 19
1 1427 28.1
2 785 15.5
3 130 2.6
4 or more 69 1
No answer 1698 33.4

Survey Implementation

Is this survey being conducted in a camp or did you follow a link online?
N Percent
Followed a link online 5040 99.3
Completed the survey in a camp 19 .4
No Answer 15 .3
Total 5074 100.0

 

Where did you find the link to this survey?
N Percent
Facebook 2504 57.1
From a personal contact 859 19.6
OccupyTogether.org 532 12.1
Twitter 322 7.3
Occupyresearch.net 165 3.8
Total 4382 100.0

 

Links to Data

The following links are to the full, anonymized dataset from ORGS in SPSS format, as a spreadsheet, and as a csv. In addition, there’s a link to the codebook. If you download and work with this data, please leave comments/links here at this post!

Occupy General Survey clean data:

With mnemonic field names:
Code book

Easy to print version survey: http://bit.ly/openqueshighlightoccupygen

 

Occupy Research: Research by & for the Movement: Panel at Left Forum March 17, NOON in NYC

Occupy Research: Research by & for the Movement

Saturday, March 17, 2012, Noon-2PM! Join us in NYC
Left Forum Conference, Room E310 on the Pace University campus, NYC
Conference Panel Announcement

Join us for a critical discussion of social movement research and research justice for movement building, in the context of the Occupy Movement.

Knowledge can be used to build and maintain, as well as to upset, power. Scholars and activists on the Left are working with the 99% to develop participatory research and include a broader base in the process of forming research questions, choosing methods, developing research tools, gathering, analyzing, and disseminating results.

People are doing occupy research to:

  • understand engagement with the movement, who is participating in Occupy, who is not participating, and why;
  • challenge race, class, gender, sexuality, age, disability and other inequalities reproduced in the occupy movement;
  • share ideas, strategies, and tactics;
  • provide research and analysis for the 99%;
  • spread research skills, tools, and methods more broadly throughout the 99%

We are scholars, movement researchers, and activists working with and as Occupiers around the country and transnationally to develop research projects including: surveys of visitors to occupywallst.org and occupytogether.org; a general survey in multiple locations and across borders; analysis of occupy as a racial project (see occupyresearch.net for more info). We will discuss occupy research as a network to support movement research, what open research processes and methods can look like, and the critical role this work can play in supporting movement building. We’ll share (and invite attendees to share) findings to date, and some of the work ahead.

Panel coordinators:

  • Christine Schweidler, Director of Strategic Initiatives, DataCenter (datacenter.org) & OccupyResearch
  • Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, Ph.D., Professor, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College of CUNY
  • Martha Fuentes-Bautista, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Sasha Costanza-Chock, Assistant Professor of Civic Media, MIT & OccupyResearch
  • Yvonne Yen Liu, Senior Researcher, Applied Research Center & Occupy Oakland Research Working Group

 

Join us for this panel: http://bit.ly/orleftforumpanel2012
Learn more about this amazing conference space: http://www.leftforum.org/
Register: http://bit.ly/lfregister2012
Join event on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/311405165580416/  

 

Upcoming Occupy Research calls

There are two upcoming open conference calls connected to Occupy Research:

1. Occupy Research open conference call #10:

  • Tuesday, Feb 7th, 3pm Pacific / 6pm EST
  • Dial: register to call in at InterOccupy: http://interoccupy.org/researchcall/   
  • (559) 546-1200, Meeting ID: 622-245-653 
  • Link to draft agenda: http://bit.ly/orcall10

2. Occupy Race research working group call #6:

  • Thursday, 2/16, 12pm ET/9am PT (1 hour)
  • Call-in number: 1 (800) 617-4268, PIN: 22988982
  • Propose agenda items and live notes: http://bit.ly/occupyrace6

To stay abreast of Occupy Research calls, events, announcements, and conversations in general, be sure to join the main mailing list: https://www.autistici.org/mailman/listinfo/occupyresearch

Opening occupyresearch.net

We’ve decided to create a website for #OccupyResearch as a way to publish work that comes out  in a cleaner and easier way than the wiki. We will see how it evolves and evaluate its use in the future. For the moment you will find here announcements. We will have to figure out how not to duplicate information so that we do not have to update it in the wiki and here.