Infographic: Who Is Occupy Wall Street?

Visualizing the results of 5,006 completed surveys at, data shared exclusively with Fast Company.

The leaderless, anarchic, revolutionary revolution, Occupy Wall Street, continues to evolve. Offshoot Occupy Oakland, for example, is expected to get support from organized labor and established advocacy groups for a massive planned demonstration Wednesday. And now a new study, shared exclusively with Fast Company, offers insight into participants. They span age and income groups, are largely apolitical, and are mostly white. They are also getting more active. (See full-size infographic below)

The movement doesn’t have an official anything. But, created by founding volunteer Justine O'Tonnaigh, is the closest thing to an official website. Between September 18 and October 28, the site received 4.7 million unique visitors. Business intelligence analyst Harrison Schultz, who helped develop, and Professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, have been surveying visitors to get a sense of who supports the movement.

Their initial poll of 1,619 people on October 5 (first reported by Fast Company) challenged the stereotypes of supporters as mostly students, the unemployed, and Democrats. But it confirmed that the vast majority are white. 

Fast Company received exclusive access to the latest survey of 5,006 visitors from October 21-22. Many of the results are similar, making the researchers confident that even surprising findings, such as 70% of respondents calling themselves political independents, were not flukes.

What did change? Participation in actual protests. In the Oct. 5 survey, 24% of respondents said that they had taken part; in the October 21-22 poll, 43% said they had.

The researchers concede that the web survey is not a perfect measure. In New York City, for example, while African Americans are certainly in the minority, Fast Company has seen more than indicated by the 1.6% that appears in the survey.

But with far more participants on the Internet than in the parks, perhaps the Occupy Wall Street social movement is best measured by its virtual ranks. And while other sites, such as, are growing, is still the best known.

Read more coverage of Occupy Wall Street

Click the image below for the full size infographic, designed by Jess3 for Fast Company.

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  • Robin Sessler

    Why was it so important to make this graphic so dark with poor contrast between the backgrounds and the text? I can barely read some of the statistics due to the poor contrast. I think intellectually appealing would be more important than visually appealing if you want to actually make a point. Otherwise the reaction is "Ooh pretty colors" and turn the page.

  • Sam Leizerman

    Why are you all arguing about area's or radii? I don't know about the rest of you, but I am perfectly capable of reading numbers. I don't need a proportional graphical representation to illustrate what 2/3 v 1/3 looks like. By focusing on the graph, you miss the message.

  • Raman Deol

    The whole point of an infographic is the visualizing the information. If no one is focusing on that, might as well be reading a list of figures.

  • Mike Spencer

    A typical ignorant comment from Deepak Patnail, assuming that many of the protesters are "Godless Heathens". Just because you don't believe in Jesus or Muhammed it doesn't mean you don't believe in God or a Divine creator. I suggest he reads my post "I am not a religious Person, I am a Spiritual Being". which was well received on an Islamic site. Full post at

    However, that aside, Breq's comment is very valid, the protesters need a clear & united message.

    Occupy Wall Street protester, rapper artist "Immortal Technique" gives such a very clear & precise message to Russian News Channel RT.

    My article featuring the video can be seen on my blog at


    At last Americans are waking up getting off their backsides to protest about the corruption!

  • Kenn Space

    Dear Human Being,

    There is something going on. – I am going to be a part of it.

    I have helped organize and promote protests in Bellevue, Olympia and
    Seattle; another big one is coming. I feel it will be a “WTO” sized
    protest in multiple cities. I will be helping to advertise and promote

    I was at the WTO protests in Seattle when a bunch of “anarchists”
    started busting windows with crowbars. We surrounded them, and they got
    in a circle with their crowbars. I tried to get the Seattle police to
    come arrest these people that were thirty feet away and threatening
    violence and breaking windows… The Seattle police would not budge from
    their “police line”, making all of us the enemy. I am not the enemy, but
    I will be in Seattle at 700 Stewart street at the Federal couthouse
    January 20th, 2012!!!

    The Corporate Occupation of the United States

    Our corporate controlled government (through corporate lobbying and
    election funding ) is out of the peoples control. People want government
    control back. Makes sense to me… I feel US corporate capitalism
    (corporatism) is a type of economic fascism: To have a corporate being
    where the chain of command eventually muddles all responsibility to any
    human being. These corporate beings are running your life, and
    controlling your government. (Enough to really make an individual mad
    and protest.) The corporate being does not exist, and when it comes to
    face it’s corporate responsibility, it is a piece of paper. That is
    plain and simply wrong. Restore capitalism to individual responsible
    chains of command, or this struggle will be lost. (This also includes
    corporate lobbying and corporate election funding, being outlawed; and a
    new form closer to individual control is established.)

    Please Sign the petition to amend the Constitution for revoking corporate personhood at:

    (I feel this will be a bigger day in history than WTO in Seattle – The battle continues, rage against the machine is real.)

    January 20, 2012 – Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!

    Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark this date — Occupy the
    Courts — a one day occupation on Friday January 20, 2012, of the Federal
    Courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and as many of
    the 89 U.S. District Court Buildings as we can. Inspired by Dr. Cornell
    West, who was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court last month,
    Move to Amend will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and
    continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.

  • Bobby Valentine

    Occupy Wall Street is just the first step. The second step is reclaiming control of our money and our purchasing power and our capital. Credit Unions are a great way to invest in your community, and to keep money out of the hands of the banks. has some good illustrations of how the banks behave, as well as info on credit union benefits.

  • Deepak Patnaik

    More than anything else, I'd really like to know how this beautiful chart was created! What software was used? It's a very aesthetic, informative chart! 

  • Naomi Robbins


    The problem with this chart is that readers don't know if the data is encoded in the area or the radii. Some graph designers use the radii as appears to be the case here while others use the area. We visualize areas. See the comment below by Neil Kandalgaonkar. Florence Nightengale used similar plots in the 1850s but she encoded the data using areas. I've read that there were earlier uses of these plots.

  • breq

    If the Occupy movement can adopt an
    anti-corruption platform instead of the disjointed messages, they will garner
    much broader support.  One Occupy
    member's page http://tiny .cc/c8m6j  seems to go a
    long way in starting down that road

  • breq

    If the Occupy movement can adopt an
    anti-corruption platform instead of the disjointed messages, they will garner
    much broader support.  One Occupy
    member's page seems to go a
    long way in starting down that road

  • Neil Kandalgaonkar

    This infographic has serious problems!
    Look at the male versus female section -- there are fewer females but the area allocated to them is about equal, if not bigger.
    Same thing with the income section. Almost half of the protesters make less than $30K, but visually, it looks like about a third.
    The designers seem to have mapped the data to the length of the radius. That would work if this was a "stack" chart of rectangles. But with sectors of a circle, the further you go out, the more area each sector has. And the eye makes relative size judgments by area, so this is highly misleading.
    As for the social media use section, the areas of the circles do seem to be proportional to the data points, although it's a pretty unusual way of showing a percentage. The 80% of people who *don't* use Twitter isn't obvious.

  • Elena

    I don't know; I understood the graph perfectly. Certainly, at first glance the issue of area vs. radius could be misleading - but this kind of article is written for those people who will (hopefully) be able to work out that the graph is represented by radii within moments of first seeing it.
    Perhaps the eye does make initial judgements by area, but within a second, the brain should be able to recognize the difference. It's true that there should be some sort of footnote to clarify the matter, but I don't see a huge problem. In any case, anyone interested enough in this topic to click on the article should be looking carefully enough to realize such a simple thing.

    Clearly, this graph was meant to be both informative and aesthetically pleasing. If such a graph were for a scholarly journal or the front page of the New York Times, my opinion would be different. But it's not - and I stand by my opinion that this graph is perfectly acceptable in the context of this article.

  • Neil Kandalgaonkar

    Also, I wish that the designers had sorted the values, for the "age" and "income" categories. Then we could tell at a glance whether the protest was mostly young or old, mostly poor or rich. This way we have to mentally re-sort the data in our head.

  • Anne Ominous

    I agree. This is a VERY misleading chart. The main problem is that it's actually an area chart, but the creator used linear values to represent data, instead of area. That isn't just a simple mistake, it's downright wrong, and ANYBODY who knows how to represent data visually should know better.

    This is a classic example of exactly the kind of misleading graphic you see in the news, as described in Darrel Huff's book, "How To Lie With Statistics". Back in 1954.

  • Trent Gilliss

    Sean, did the researchers gather any numbers about spiritual or religions affiliation? If so, do you have any stats on the makeup?

  • Tyler Gray

    Interesting! That wasn't included in the survey results we received. And I believe that those results included all questions asked. Just curious: What's your assumption? I mean, I'm going with "Godless heathens," but I could be wrong.

  • Alternate22

    Actually, I've conducted a survey myself at Occupy Wall Street itself (on the ground, convenience sampling). Alas its a much, much smaller sample size (61 individuals) and is dated for the 15th/16th of October. The preliminary results were recently tabulated, but we included significantly more details into it. though the margin of error is 10% (confidence interval of 90%), the figures are in the ballpark similar to what you've shown here. If you'd like the raw data, I can send that over.

    To answer the original question though: that survey revealed that 13% of respondents were Christian, 14.8% chose Agnostic, 6.6% Chose Atheist, 31% chose "None or N/A" and 34.6% chose other religions (Amongst which included Hindu, Muslim, Unitarian, Bahai, Buddhist, Free thinkers, misc other that didn't fit in the other above categories).