According to a recently published study by The Frontier Lab the odd, filthy, and criminal behaviors of the slacker of the OWS “movement” can be better explained as “occupational therapy” than as politically motivated protests. According to this study, for the foot soldiers of OWS it’s about community, belonging, identity, and control.
This explains a great deal of their behavior and also explains the diffuse and disjointed nature of their surface motivation. It especially explains their pathological need to “Occupy” as opposed to engaging in normal, legal protests.
It makes a certain sad and pathetic sense that the the rank-and-file occupiers, who feel isolated in their existences, and seemingly lack basic community ties such as those provided by participation in clubs, churches, and strong families, would sublimate their loss, longing, and despondency into the desire to carve out a “new home” for themselves and to surround themselves with others of their sort as some sort of support group.
Before discounting this or claiming the source, The Frontier Lab, is tainted simply read the following excerpt from December 18, 2011 statement from Occupy Wall St.’s “Organizational” website:
It hurts to be holding GA’s here in an empty park. It hurts to stand here in the cold, fighting for nothing. I do not mean that we don’t stand for principles.
I mean that we don’t have a physical home.
There is nothing here. There are no structures. There is no sign of our community. There is no life. Yes, we are here. But we have become tourists. We visit the park, we do not occupy it.
— Christina Daniel
Buy-Out Buy-In – Proposal for GA
That certainly seems to bear out or, at least, lend weight to the “Occupational Therapy” hypothesis about the real motivations of the rabble in OWS.
The Frontier Lab report describes these rank-and-file Occupiers as “Communitarians.”
A Communitarian remarked that, upon waking each morning in the Tent City, he was struck by an overwhelming feeling of being part of a family. When queried about their formal religiosity, this segment indicated that they had grown up in largely non-religious households. One interview subject indicated that while he had grown up in a religious family, he had felt estranged due to his sexual orientation.
The Communitarians may have expressed their satisfaction at being “proactive” to correct injustices, but the value behind this satisfaction is “Security.” Security to Communitarians means reasserting some control over their futures. The rocky job market and economic outlook mean that they feel more adrift and unsure of their life plans, but for them the Occupy protests serve to translate malaise and fear into action, with a result that is both calming and empowering.
They then applied Means-Ends Theory and Laddering to map from concrete behaviors (Attributes) to emotional feedback (Consequences) to underlying values and/or beliefs (Values).
Means-Ends Theory: Attributes → Consequences → Values
When The Frontier Lab interviewed a series of high intensity occupiers in New York and Chicago they applied this Means-Ends Theory to derive insights into the occupiers’ psyches and motivations.
It boils down to the idea that the average slacker in OWS is desperately in needs of community, fellowship, and self-validation and is seeking these things in the now-defunct OWS camps. In other words, it’s “Occupational Therapy” for them.