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 occupywallst.org, 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 occupywallst.org, 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 occupytogether.org, are growing, occupywallst.org is still the best known.