OCCUPY WALL STREET TEN YEARS ON:
HOW ITS DISRUPTIVE INSTITUTIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP SPREAD
AND WHY IT FIZZLED
THOMAS H. ALLISON*
Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Neeley School of Business
Texas Christian University
TCU Box 298530
Fort Worth, TX 76129
Cambridge Judge Business School
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB2 1AG
AARON F. McKENNY
Kelley School of Business
1275 E 10th St
Bloomington, IN 47405
Tel: (857) 574-0758
JEREMY C. SHORT
G. Brint Ryan College of Business
University of North Texas
1155 Union Circle
Denton, TX 76203
*Corresponding author: Tel: +1-682-365-9369; authors listed alphabetically.
OCCUPY WALL STREET TEN YEARS ON:
HOW ITS DISRUPTIVE INSTITUTIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP SPREAD
AND WHY IT FIZZLED
How does media impact institutional entrepreneurs and their ability to create change? We draw
from research on social movements and media frames to examine the paradox that media-
informed discursive opportunities pose for institutional entrepreneurs engaged in efforts to
transform or create social institutions. Through content analysis of 8,473 newspaper articles
covering the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement, we highlight the paradox of discursive
opportunities: the same types of media frames that initially encourage more disruptive tactics
also subsequently increase the perceived threat of such disruption, thereby encouraging swifter
counteraction. Our findings hold implications for the importance of media as a potential catalyst
for entrepreneurial activity in the realm of social movements hoping to engage in reform.
Ten years ago, the Occupy Wall Street social movement spread rapidly to hundreds of
locations before collapsing. The Occupy social movement sought social change through
institutional entrepreneurship (Kury, 2012). With the benefit of historical perspective, recent
studies have begun to draw insights from this movement (Reinecke and Ansari, 2021). We build
on this renewed interest (Johnson et al., 2021), conducting an event history content analysis of
media influences on institutional entrepreneurs’ social movement tactics. We examine two
unanswered questions, each of which has implications for how institutional entrepreneurs rally
support for their endeavors: why did Occupy’s brand of institutional entrepreneurship spread so
rapidly and why did it fail?
Institutional entrepreneurs must rally supporters and marshal resources in order to
transform existing institutions or create new ones resulting in social change (Dean and
McMullen, 2007; Logue and Grimes, 2019). A key influence on entrepreneurs’ ability to do this
are media-informed discursive opportunities (i.e., moments when cultural discourse is favorably
aligned with proposals for change; Gehman and Soubliere, 2017; Lounsbury and Glynn, 2001).
These discursive opportunities are informed by media frames (e.g., Hiatt et al., 2009): rhetoric
that identifies, labels, and interprets social events and circumstances (Cornelissen and Werner,
2014). Although social movements are thought to take part in diffusing new frames and cultural
products that are supportive of the aims of those movements (Vasi et al., 2015), social scientists
have consistently argued that the traditional media mediates any impact of those movements’
frames, given its continued dominant role in socially constructing modern reality (Gamson et al.,
1992; McCombs and Shaw, 1972).
While discursive opportunities allow change agents to mobilize supporters and thus affect
social change (Dorobantu et al., 2017; McCammon et al., 2007), such opportunities, as
constructed by media frames, may also make counteraction by incumbent forces more likely
(e.g., Waldron et al., 2013). As such, our view is that while media-informed discursive
opportunities encourage mobilization, they paradoxically affect counter-mobilization, potentially
confounding an otherwise clear relationship between discursive opportunities and institutional
entrepreneurship. If this is true, it has broad relevance to the growing number of disruptive
innovations that challenge existing institutions (e.g., cryptocurrency).
We study the U.S. Occupy movement, totaling 436 sites and conducting a hierarchical
event history analysis of the influence of 8,473 media articles across up to 72,281 days of time-
to-event data. Our longitudinal data allow us to examine whether media-informed discursive
opportunities help explain the spread and collapse of Occupy over and above the influence of
time and other factors known to influence diffusion in social movements (Strang and Soule,
1998). Like other social movements, the Occupy movement sought to alter social norms and
influence government action and legislation (e.g., Meek et al., 2010; Pacheco et al., 2010a).
Occupy is a particularly interesting venue for understanding the relationship between discursive
opportunities and institutional entrepreneurship because despite similar objectives and
organizational structures, some sites were able to mobilize supporters toward more disruptive
forms of institutional entrepreneurship (e.g., trespassing and permanent encampment) than others
(e.g., meetings and temporary protests). Occupy also allows us to study how discursive
opportunities subsequently affect the speed of counteraction (i.e., shutting down an
encampment), as governments reacted differently to similar sites.
Our insight is that there is indeed a paradox in how media-informed discursive
opportunities enable institutional entrepreneurship. Discursive opportunities both lead to more
disruptive approaches to institutional entrepreneurship and also increase the perceived threat
posed by such efforts to the status quo, thus encouraging swifter counteraction.
2. Discourse analysis of Occupy movement
The discourse surrounding social movement dynamics is often contentious as supporters,
opponents, and third parties offer and attempt to diffuse new frames (Fligstein and McAdam,
2012; Meyer and Höllerer, 2010). Frames are rhetoric that serves to shape the understanding or
interpretation of events and circumstances (Cornelissen and Werner, 2014; Goffman, 1974).
Together, the frames applied to an event can form a discursive opportunity for collective action
(Benford and Snow, 2000; Hiatt et al., 2009). Such opportunities can be seized by institutional
entrepreneurs to affect social change through social movements.
While the leaders of social movements seek to shape and diffuse new, favorable frames,
traditional media plays a dominant role, operating as an exogenous force, bearing heavily both
on movements’ agendas as well as on their capacity to affect change (Briscoe and Murphy, 2012;
Rao et al., 2010; Vasi et al., 2015; Zietsma and Lawrence, 2010). Thus, we argue that media-
informed discursive opportunities affect whether extra-institutional entrepreneurs recognize local
opportunities for influencing social change and the means by which social movements acting as
extra-institutional entrepreneurs choose to exploit such opportunities. Additionally, we argue that
media-informed discursive opportunities also influence the speed of counteraction in response to
institutional entrepreneurs’ disruptive actions in seeking social change.
The media is often thought to assist in diffusing stakeholder reactions to critical events,
thereby reflecting public opinion climates (Dorobantu et al., 2017). This reflection can then take
the form of “social proof,” where opinions and reactions begin to cascade, mobilizing individuals
in support of or against a particular cause (Dorobantu et al., 2017; Rao et al., 2001). Thus, media
framing of events can create media-informed discursive opportunities. These emerge when the
relative composition of positive media sentiment regarding a social movement and its grievances
outweighs related negative sentiment (Deephouse, 2000). As such, higher levels of expressed
support for the movement or the proposed institutional changes can encourage actors to engage
in further similar change efforts, as they perceive cultural opportunities for doing so (Dorobantu
et al., 2017; Geels and Verhees, 2011; Turró et al., 2014). Alternatively, when the media
criticizes the movement, its agenda, and activities, this can serve to obstruct the emergence and
diffusion of such activities (Shriver et al., 2013).
Beyond the relative composition of negative to positive sentiment expressed by the
media, discursive opportunities are also likely informed by how the media chooses to frame the
collective action in terms of its degree of disruption. Specifically, media coverage that focuses on
the disruptive aspects of the movement will increase public awareness of the actors, activities
and the causes that compelled such activities (McLeod et al., 1991). For individuals who are
already sympathetic to the need for disruption, framing the disruptive nature of the movement
tends to encourage participation (Dorobantu et al., 2017).
The Occupy movement, which began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park some 450
feet from its eponymous street (Bennett, 2011) is a strong example of how the relative
composition of negative to positive sentiment and the relative frequency of media frames
focused on a movement’s disruptive potential can contribute to whether local institutional
entrepreneurs exploit a discursive opportunity. First-hand scholarly accounts of the movement
suggest that the activists and social movement leaders relied on traditional media sources to
report on public opinion and inform their tactical decisions (Gould-Wartofsky, 2015; Reinecke
and Ansari, 2021). Initially, external media sources amplified public opinions of the movement
and the movement’s grievances, thereby playing an essential role in diffusing the Occupy
movement. At times, the media merely reported on the tactics of the various sites, but frequently
these reports were accompanied by positive or negative language that framed those tactics. For
instance, early media reports from the New York Times of the initial Wall Street site
characterized the protests as noble and comprised of “rightly frustrated young people”, yet also
called it a “fractured and airy movement” with causes that were “impossible to decipher”
(Bellafante, 2011). Such mixed media sentiment continued throughout the lifecycle of the U.S.
encampments and protest sites. It is our view that both positive versus negative framing as well
as the relative frequency of media frames focused on Occupy’s disruptive potential were positive
influences on whether a nascent Occupy site in a new city chose to take the next step and
organize an encampment.
We are also interested in understanding what influenced the failures of those
encampments. We begin by pointing out that the creation of an encampment influences the
likelihood of counteraction. This is consistent with the prevailing social movements literature
which suggests that authorities’ responses to threats are a function of the threatening
characteristics of the movement or its tactics (Hiatt et al., 2015). For instance, McAdam (1996:
341) notes that, "the tactics and goals of the movement largely shape the reaction of various
publics to the conflict.” For example, Earl and colleagues (2003) report that police presence at
protests can largely be attributed to the confrontational nature of the movement tactics employed:
sit-ins and occupations engender greater response, peaceful marches less response.
Although the behaviors of institutional entrepreneurs may indeed influence counteraction,
such differences may not explain all of the observed variance, given anecdotal evidence of
different counteractive responses to the same disruptive activity. For example, Airbnb and its
founders have long engaged in institutional entrepreneurship, challenging existing institutions in
service of legitimizing “the sharing economy” (Zervas et al., 2017). In this role, Airbnb has
uniformly threatened large hospitality organizations as well as existing legislation. “Despite
Airbnb's growing popularity, many Airbnb rentals are actually illegal due to short-term rental
regulations,” (Guttentag, 2015). Despite this, many municipalities decided to relax local
enforcement of such laws, while others have been much swifter and forceful in their reaction. In
this case, market behaviors remained constant, but the municipalities’ perceived threat of the
behaviors varied. The same is true of Occupy and municipalities perceptions of its threat.
Our view is that perception of Occupy as a threat (proxied by the breaking-up/eviction of
encampments) will be influenced by the creation of discursive opportunities by media. The
creation of such opportunities is a function of two forms of media framing: the relative
composition of negative to positive sentiment and the relative frequency of media frames
focused on the disruptive potential of a particular occupation. Each will make counteraction
more likely: where media ignores the occupation, so will local governments. This allows the
occupation to remain and continue to work to capture public support, whether directly or through
the media. On the other hand, where media frames position the entrepreneur as a credible threat
to the status quo, counteraction will be more likely and more rapid. Specifically, because
responses to social movements are dependent on the degree of perceived threat (King, 2008;
King and Soule, 2007; McDonnell and King, 2013), we expect that differences in media frames
will influence the degree to which a given occupation is seen as a threat deserving of
counteraction (Kennedy, 2008). We thus expect that the relative strength of positive to negative
media sentiment will accelerate counteraction against institutional entrepreneurs. Further, media
coverage which highlights the occupation’s disruptive potential will also make counteraction
more likely and more rapid.
Our research questions require us to examine whether current media frames are
associated with future events of interest (encampments and counteraction). Answering these
requires an event history approach and longitudinal data. Event history analysis is a branch of
survival analysis used in studies of social movements, the effects of protests, the diffusion and
acceptance of practices, and in general, influences on whether an event occurs (i.e., encampment
or counteraction; see Box-Steffensmeier and Jones, 1997; King and Soule, 2007). Event history
is required for our study because it allows us to estimate the probability that an Occupy site will
encamp (or that an encampment will be subject to counteraction), given the influence of the
media frames from a given city, published at multiple points in time. It is important to account
for time because Occupy sites will naturally be more likely to establish in other cities soon after
the formation of Occupy Wall Street. Explicitly including time in our models allows us to
examine whether media frames have any additional explanatory power, above the known
influence of time on the diffusion of social movements.
We began data collection with a list of all U.S. Occupy sites, whose selection we describe
in Appendix A, which also provides additional detail on our data, procedures, and methods. In
total we identified 436 distinct Occupy sites. For each, we identified if the site ever formed a
disruptive encampment, and if so, the date on which this occurred. Next, for sites which formed
encampments (165), we identified whether government representatives caused a forced
departure, and if so, the date on which this occurred.
We measure our media frame variables, relative strength of positive to negative media
sentiment and media coverage which highlights the occupation’s disruptive potential, using
validated computer-aided text analysis dictionaries (e.g., Allison et al., 2013) on news articles
covering specific Occupy movement locations (e.g., Deephouse, 1996; Dorobantu et al., 2017).
Content analysis of media is a valuable method for generating site-specific measures of public
endorsement or disapproval, because it allows longitudinal analyses (Vergne, 2011). All articles
were collected using LexisNexis Academic. We performed an exhaustive search for all articles
referencing any Occupy site. The search criterion was the name of the organization: for example,
Occupy Cleveland. We matched articles to Occupy sites according to the geographic area
covered by the media outlet. For each matched article, we retained those articles published on a
date prior to the date our outcomes of interest occurred (Occupy site establishes encampment or
encampment forced to depart). We additionally included national media coverage on the broader
Occupy movement, given the impact of such media frames on all Occupy sites. Eliminating
duplicates yielded 8,473 articles. Our resulting data includes local coverage of local events and
local coverage of national events. For example, the Spokesman Review (Goodman, 2011) on 23
September, 2011 wrote approvingly of the march on Wall Street: “2,000 people did occupy Wall
Street last Saturday...their message was clear: ‘We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate
the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.’” An occupation began in Spokane six days later.
Our content analysis software is Harvard General Inquirer. This software and its
dictionaries have been developed and validated in organizational and sociological research over
many years (Stone et al., 1966). To measure the balance of positive to negative media frames, we
follow previous research that relies on Harvard’s General Inquirer’s Positive and Negative
Outlook dictionaries to measure positive/negative evaluations (e.g., Abrahamson and Fairchild,
1999). The Positive and Negative outlook dictionaries are combined into a single media
sentiment measure using the content analysis coefficient of imbalance (Janis and Fadner, 1943;
Soroka et al., 2015). Overall positivity/negativity is scaled to [-1,1] such that purely negative
press is coded as -1, purely positive press is coded as 1, and a mixture of both falls between those
points (e.g., Deephouse, 2000). Because we are concerned with the accumulation of positive and
negative frames regarding the Occupy encampments, our positive-negative frame imbalance
variable reflects the cumulative balance of positive and negative frames articulated from the first
day of observation to each day at risk of both encampment and forced dissolution (Appendix A
provides further details). We are also concerned with differences in media frames regarding the
disruptive potential of Occupy sites. Disruptive potential is a function of the social movement’s
ability to induce conflict in discourse about who the legitimate holders of political power are.
The Harvard General Inquirer program includes a dictionary to capture discourse indicating
power conflict in media discourse, the Power Conflict dictionary. This dictionary is defined as
capturing “words for ways of conflicting,” within the sphere of power, which is “influence to
affect the policies of others” (Namenwirth and Weber, 2016). Thus, this dictionary was used to
measure power conflict frames (e.g., Kleinnijenhuis et al., 2011). To control for the fact that
some sites have more news reported about them in general, we divided the daily observation of
power conflict by the total number of words. Then, to capture the cumulative effect of power
conflict language, each day’s power conflict score is aggregated as the sum from the first day of
observation to the focal day. Table 1 presents examples of positive media frames, negative media
frames, and media frames with prominent power conflict frames. We include five sets of controls
in our analyses in order to isolate the effects of media frames on the formation of and
counteraction against Occupy encampments. These are shown in Table 2: social media effects,
ideological effects, diffusion effects, community characteristic effects, and encampment
Insert Tables 1 and 2 About Here
We use a shared frailty estimator. This random effects (hierarchical) model allows us to
tie together all observations associated with the same encampment site. Descriptive statistics are
presented in Table 3. The results of our event history analyses are presented in Table 4. In the
first two models, we examined media’s effects on the Occupy sites’ degree of disruption. Model
1 presents controls only. In Model 2, we found that positive-negative frame imbalance (hazard
ratio = 10.20; p < 0.01) and power conflict frames (hazard ratio = 1.13; p < 0.01) increased the
probability of an encampment being established. As these hazard ratios are proportional, they
indicate that a one unit change in positive-negative frame imbalance (i.e., from 75%
negative/25% positive (-0.5) to 25% negative/75% positive (0.5)) results in a more than ten-fold
increase (10.2 times) in the odds of an encampment being formed by local organizers in the
future. Similarly, for every unit change in power conflict frames, the odds of an encampment
being formed in the next event history period are increased 1.13 times.
Thus, consistent with the view that media frames are influential in shaping events (e.g.,
Earl et al., 2004), these results provide support for the idea that both the relative composition of
negative to positive frames and the relative frequency of media frames focused on Occupy’s
disruptive potential contribute to whether local institutional entrepreneurs perceive a discursive
opportunity to be exploited by organizing an encampment and mobilizing supporters to fund and
staff that encampment.
Insert Tables 3 and 4 About Here
Turning to our forced departure predictions, Models 3 and 4 examined media frames’
effects on the rate of counteraction against nonconformity. In Model 3, we provide a baseline
analysis consisting of all control variables. In Model 4, we found that positive-negative frame
imbalance (hazard ratio = 19.45; p < 0.10) did not significantly increase the hazard of an
encampment being forced to depart at the 0.05 p-value cutoff. However, power conflict frames
(hazard ratio = 1.03; p < 0.01) did significantly increase the hazard of an encampment being
forced to depart. Thus, we find that media power conflict frames makes eviction more likely,
while the positive-negative frame balance did not. Power conflict frames increase the odds of
forced departure in the next day by 3% for every unit change in power conflict frames. As this is
a daily effect, this is substantial.
These results provide partial support for our suggestion that media frames play a role in
how governments and authorities perceive threats, consistent with the view that responses to
social movements vary depending on perceived threat (King, 2008; King and Soule, 2007;
McDonnell and King, 2013). Specifically, we find that power conflict media frames may
influence the degree to which a given occupation is seen as a threat deserving of counteraction
(Kennedy, 2008). Our results suggest weak significance for an effect of positive frame imbalance
on the perceived threat of an occupation.
4. Discussion: Bridging research on institutional entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship
The most consequential contemporary examples of innovation (e.g., sharing economy,
digital currency, alternative energy, microfinance) are those which involve not only the
introduction of new organizations but also the uprooting or reform of existing institutions
(Grimes et al., 2018; Khavul et al., 2013; York et al., 2016). Given the seeming increased
potential for commercial entrepreneurs to simultaneously act as institutional entrepreneurs this
intersection seems more critical than ever. In this study, we have explored this intersection,
investigating how discursive opportunities affect not only the actions of institutional
entrepreneurs, but also the counteractions taken against institutional entrepreneurs. We suggest
that for scholars seeking to understand the ability for change agents to disrupt the status quo, this
illustrates a way to learn from longstanding empirical evidence regarding the emergence,
mobilization, and success of social movements as analogues for understanding entrepreneurship.
We found that the same types of discursive opportunities that encouraged the
mobilization of institutional entrepreneurship toward more disruptive actions also increased the
perceived threat of such mobilization, speeding up counteraction. Specifically, we found that
media that focused on the conflicts instigated by the movement increased the speed with which
authorities evicted encampments. Our findings challenge narrow conceptions of entrepreneurial
opportunities by highlighting the importance of discursive opportunities (Lounsbury and Glynn,
2019) as well as the ways in which such opportunities not only encourage mobilization but also
counter-mobilization. Our findings also challenge our understanding of the positive effects of
media frames in the context of institutional entrepreneurship and innovation.
Many institutional entrepreneurs—like most entrepreneurs—have little a priori insight
into the “market need” that might or might not exist for their proposals of change. Any such
insight that they are able to obtain is shaped by the media they consume. Our findings thus
highlight the agenda-setting role of media-informed discursive opportunities both for those who
are seeking change and those who are resisting change. To the extent that any opportunities are
created, this is accomplished by way of communications and narratives, which express some
future possible solutions to current problems (Garud and Giuliani, 2013; Garud et al., 2014). To
the extent that any opportunities exist apart from the entrepreneurs, this is because those
communications about what is necessary and possible have become culturally legitimized.
Our findings also lend insight into the challenges associated with disruptive innovations
during an era of rampant media attention (Grimes and Vogus, 2021). Innovations such as these
(e.g. cryptocurrency) challenge established institutional orders and thus, securing the success of
disruptive innovations often involves institutional entrepreneurship. We suggest in this study that
given the media’s power in shaping not only public discourse but also individual and collective
action, entrepreneurs are well-advised to seek ways of bolstering media coverage of their ideas
and innovations. Scholarly evidence has largely reinforced this conventional wisdom (Petkova et
al., 2013; Pollock and Rindova, 2003). Yet our findings suggest that to the extent that
entrepreneurs’ agendas for change are controversial, they may benefit much less from increased
media coverage. Our findings thus surface the paradox of media coverage for controversial or
Our study should be understood relative to its limitations, some of which hold potential
for future research. One of these concerns the media framing of non-text (multimedia) content.
Content analysis has traditionally focused on text, but recent work has begun to expand to
images, leading to insights about the persuasive influence of facial expressions (Davis et al.,
2021; Warnick et al., 2021). Future entrepreneurship work on media frames may consider
extending such content analysis approaches to media framing of photographs that accompany the
text of stories.
In conclusion, we hope that our work will contribute to the growing body of research
which has challenged entrepreneurship scholars to recognize cases in which attempts to found
new ventures go hand in hand with attempts to create or change societal institutions (Alvarez et
al., 2015; Gehman and Grimes, 2017; Khavul et al., 2013; Lee and Hung, 2014; Pacheco et al.,
2010b). We suggest that consideration of institutional entrepreneurship will prove essential for
fully understanding the entrepreneurial process and any associated outcomes.
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Table 1. Positive, Negative and Power Conflict Frame Exemplars
Today, our Constitution (article 1, section 21) declares, citizens have a right in a peaceable manner to assembly for their common good. While our federal free-
speech rights may be limited by content-neutral regulations as to time, place and manner, and then only if such regulations are narrowly tailored to serve a
significant governmental interest, section 24 of the Rhode Island Constitution makes clear that rights guaranteed by this Constitution are not dependent on those
guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Although Rhode Island courts have yet to hold that Rhode Island’s constitution provides protesters with more
protection than the First Amendment, the history of Providence suggests that it should. Last Thursday, the City of Providence issued eviction notices to those
occupying Burnside Park. The letters cite park rules and city ordinances prohibiting littering, alcohol, pets, and bullhorns all issues that Occupy Providence has
studiously addressed. The park is cleaner and safer now than it has ever been.
The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says Occupy Providence protesters have little legal grounds to support their right to remain
encamped at a downtown park. Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said Friday that a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding camping bans
in certain public parks "significantly limits" Occupy Providence's right to stay at Burnside Park indefinitely. Brown says the ACLU disagrees with the ruling. He
called on local authorities to respect Occupy Providence's First Amendment right to engage in other forms of peaceful protest.
Occupy Bloomington demonstrators have violated terms for staying in Peoples Park, Mayor Mark Kruzan said Sunday, after police arrested three protesters
outside a downtown bar early New Year's morning. The arrests Sunday came after three men reportedly harassed police officers, stepped on a squad car and
threw a bottle at a second-story window during a chaotic Occupy Bloomington march that lasted almost two hours. Three police officers were hurt during the
arrests, and one required medical attention, according to the mayor. For months, Mayor Kruzan has defended protesters' rights to set up tents and camp in Peoples
Park downtown. He did not budge when the protesters winterized their living quarters with heavy-
duty canvas tents and sought donations for a portable toilet. But
on Sunday, he gave the camp a second look.
About 80 people were arrested Saturday when demonstrators who were camped out near the New York Stock Exchange marched through lower Manhattan as the
"Occupy Wall Street" protest entered its second week. Demonstrators said they are protesting bank bailouts, the mortgage crisis and Georgia's execution of Troy
Davis. At Manhattan's Union Square, police tried to corral protesters with plastic netting. Police said the arrests were mostly for blocking traffic. Charges include
disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But one demonstrator was charged with assaulting a police officer who suffered a shoulder injury.
The local Veterans for Peace hold memorial services, including the recent ceremony of remembrance on Veterans Day at Mineral Palace Park. They try to
educate the public by showing films and distributing copies of The War Crimes Times that’s published four times a year by the national Veterans for Peace
organization. They’ve held protests here and joined ones in Colorado Springs. Lately, they’ve aligned themselves with Occupy Pueblo and the national Occupy
Wall Street movement because, Butler says, “If you follow the money, a major factor in the economy’s collapse is the tremendous expenditure of our war
economy. If you spend your money . . . it’s either for guns or butter. If you build a bridge, you have it for 30 years -- a good investment. If you bomb a bridge,
and technically you’re supposed to rebuild it before you leave, you have to pay for the bombs and have to pay for the bridge and you have nothing to show for the
expenditure, in this country.” Paulsen says: “It bothers me that the military-industrial complex runs this country.”
The Occupy Wall Street protests are just another example of the divisions that plague our nation. We have a segment of society that is unwilling to accept any
responsibility for their personal lack of success. They find it necessary and convenient to blame others, demand social justice, and engage in the political
denigration of the greedy capitalists…Unfortunately political groups are using these protests as an opportunity to continue the constant bitter political social and
economic mudslinging to divide rather than unite our nation. As soon as someone learns that they do not have economic social or political equality the volley of
nasty bitter partisan attacks begin.
Table 2. Control Variables
category Description of Controls
The Occupy movement relied heavily on social media to communicate with stakeholders (Costanza-Chock, 2012). Social media provides an efficient
mechanism for soliciting potential participants to organize and engage in collective action (Segerberg and Bennett, 2011). Twitter was the primary platform
used (in 2011, Facebook’s usage profile was significantly different than it is 10 years later (e.g., Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2012). Thus, to control for social
media effects, we collected all Twitter posts associated with each Occupy site (e.g., Fischer and Reuber, 2014). We identified all versions of the Occupy site
name in order to collect tweets that used short forms of the occupation name. Social media frames as a control is the number of tweets and retweets associated
with each site from the first day of observation. We identified 2,069,408 tweets and 35,509,332 retweets. We further capture encampment tweets to address the
extent to which each sites’ discussion of encamping may inform both media coverage and variance in the decision to encamp.
Ideology provides the basis for institutional entrepreneurship (Zald, 1996). When individuals have affinity for the ideology of an institutional entrepreneur,
they are more likely to mobilize (e.g., McAdam, 1986). Accordingly, we controlled for the effects of political ideology, the linear combination of “the
outcomes of congressional elections, the partisan division of state legislatures, [and] the party of the governor” (Berry et al., 1998: 327) plus voting data for the
political subdivision containing each Occupy organization for the most recent presidential election prior to the events of the study.
Diffusion is the spread of institutional entrepreneurship within a population (e.g., Strang and Soule, 1998). By controlling for diffusion effects, we isolate non-
framing influences. Proximity is one of the most commonly cited antecedents of diffusion (Strang and Soule, 1998). We controlled for proximity in two ways.
First, we controlled for distance from Wall Street as the distance (miles) between an Occupy site and Zuccotti Park where the movement began. Second, we
controlled for distance to the nearest neighboring Occupy site as the distance (miles) between an Occupy site and the nearest neighboring encampment. Nearest
neighbors were those encampments existing or still existing on each day of the study period. Timing and momentum also influence diffusion (Strang and
Soule, 1998). To address this concern, we controlled for both the number of encampments established on the previous day and the cumulative number of
encampments established as of the previous day. Occupy had formal initiatives to initiate encampments on 10 and 15 October, 2011, thus, we also included
two dichotomous controls to capture these events (lagged one day prior). To address timing in our study of encampment closures, we controlled for the number
of encampments closed on the previous day and the cumulative number of encampments closed as of the previous day. Additionally, given the symbolic
leadership (e.g., Ganz, 2000) of the encampment in Manhattan and its influence on whether other sites persisted, we controlled for whether this site was still
Characteristics of the community can also influence the spread and persistence of institutional entrepreneurship (e.g., Vigdor, 2004). Dense environments
increase the opportunity for collective action (e.g., McVeigh, 1995). Accordingly, we control for population density (e.g., Sampson et al., 2005). We also
control for whether the Occupy site was located in the state capital, coded as 1, or in a different city, coded as 0 (cf. McVeigh, 2006). Capital cities are more
attractive for social activism (McVeigh, 2006). We further controlled for the number of colleges in the city associated with the Occupy site as identified by the
U.S. Department of Education. We also controlled for the unemployment rate of the statistical area containing the Occupy site as well as the poverty rate of the
county containing the Occupy site.
Encampment conditions such as the weather are likely to influence the formation and persistence of encampments. Bad weather increases an individual’s costs
of participating in collective action (Oberschall, 1980), making it less likely that they will participate in encampments. Accordingly, we control for the mean
temperature (°F) and the daily precipitation (inches) as measured by local National Weather Service stations.
Table 3. Descriptive Statistics
Spread of Occupy Encampments
Eviction of Occupy Encampments
1. Forced Departure
2. Days to Encampment
2. Days to Forced Departure
3. Positive-Negative Frame Imbalance
3. Positive-Negative Frame Imbalance
4. Power Conflict Frames
4. Power Conflict Frames
5. ‘Encampment’ Tweets
5. Social Media Frames
6. Social Media Frames
6. Political Ideology
7. Political Ideology
7. Number of Colleges
8. Number of Colleges
8. Unemployment Rate
9. Unemployment Rate
9. Poverty Rate
10. Poverty Rate
10. Distance from Wall Street
11. Distance from Wall Street
11. Distance to Nearest Neighbor
12. Distance to Nearest Neighbor
12. Number of Encampments Closed
13. Number of Encampments Established
13. Cumulative Encampments Closed
14. Cumulative Encampments Established
14. Population Density
15. October 10th
15. State Capital
16. October 15th
16. Weather (Mean Temperature)
17. Population Density
17. Weather (Precipitation)
18. State Capital
19. Weather (Mean Temperature)
20. Weather (Precipitation)
Table 4. Event History Analysis
DV: Forced Departure
Controls: Social Media
Social Media Frames
Controls: Movement Ideology/Influences
Number of Colleges
Controls: Social Movement Diffusion
Distance from Wall Street Zuccotti Park, statute miles
Distance to Nearest Neighboring Occupy site, statute miles
Number of Encampments Established on Previous Day
Cumulative Number of Encampments as of Previous Day
October 10th Call for Action on Previous Day
October 15th Call for Action on Previous Day
Number of Encampments Closed on Previous Day
Cumulative Number of Encampments Closed as of Previous Day
Wall Street Still Encamped at Zuccotti Park
Location of Occupy Site is State Capital
Controls: Encampment Conditions
Weather (Mean Temperature)
Positive-Negative Frame Imbalance
Power Conflict Frames
N (Unit of Analysis: Organization-Days)
Note: For significant coefficient estimates, the sign of the z-statistic is given in parentheses. (+) indicates that the variable increases
the hazard of the DV event occurring; (−) indicates that the variable decreases the hazard of the DV event occurring.
† p < 0.10 * p < 0.05 ** p < 0.01 *** p < 0.001
Appendix A. Data, Procedures, and Measures
The Occupy movement, which began in 2011, provides an ideal context for examining
media influence on institutional entrepreneurs for two reasons. First, while Occupy began as the
single protest “Occupy Wall Street” on September 17, 2011, the Occupy message quickly diffused,
seeding hundreds of local organizations working as part of the overall social movement. The
establishment of further protest sites, with similar objectives and organizational structures, across
the United States and the world (Yardley, 2011) represented examples of institutional
entrepreneurship, in that they were comprised of individuals who sought to effect institutional
change (Lowenstein, 2011). Second, the Occupy tactic of disruptive, unlawful encampment also
diffused, yet it did so differentially. Some local Occupy sites created encampments, yet many others
did not. These encampments maintained a precarious implicit agreement with local authorities,
many of whom allowed the encampments to persist despite violating trespassing and other laws.
U.S. law guarantees the right to assemble, petition, and protest; however, occupying a property,
entering property with intent to interfere, or refusing to leave public property during hours it is
regularly closed after being asked to leave constitutes criminal trespass under state laws. As a
result, thousands of Occupy encampment participants were arrested and jailed, with some formally
convicted and sentenced to jail terms. We limited our scope to Occupy sites in the United States to
minimize confounding variance arising from differences in national laws concerning press, speech,
association, and assembly liberties (Freedom House, 2011).
We began our study with a list of all U.S. Occupy sites which was assembled using
information from all available media, internet sources, and message boards1. We continued this
search, examining progressively more directories and sources, until we found that each new source
contained no Occupy sites that we had not previously identified from multiple earlier sources. Thus,
we assembled a list of 459 U.S. Occupy sites. Of these, 23 were eliminated because they referred to
a broad geographical area containing other Occupy sites (e.g., Occupy Minnesota), were duplicates
1 Resources included occupylist.org, directory.Occupy.net, newspapers, and lists of satellite Occupy movements. Some
of these sources are now defunct.
of existing Occupy sites (e.g., misspellings, abbreviations, or variations in naming), or their
existence could not be independently verified. This resulted in 436 distinct Occupy sites in the
United States. Sites included major metropolitan cities (New York, Boston, Denver), smaller cities
under one million in population (Oakland, Boise, Detroit), and other towns of under 100,000 in
population (Sioux City, IA; St. Joseph, MO; Bozeman, MT).
Our event history analysis requires the specification of a pair of dependent variables for
each outcome of interest: a binary measure of whether an event occurred and a duration until the
event occurred. In our study, we were interested in both encampment, as well as forced departure
(eviction of the encampment), thus, we have two pairs of variables. Our first dependent variable,
encampment, was assigned a value of 1 if an encampment was formed by a given Occupy site at
any point during our sampling frame and a value of 0 if no encampment was formed (e.g., the site
involved protests but no encampment). Because encampments are not protected speech or protest,
(e.g., Bray et al., 2011), encampment is a more disruptive action for institutional entrepreneurs to
attempt. Among the 436 sites we identified, 165 established encampments, while the remaining 271
held meetings and protested but never encamped. Our second dependent variable, days to
encampment, was calculated as the number of days from the date each frame was articulated to the
date when the site’s encampment was formed, if the Occupy site ultimately formed an encampment.
For the sites that did not form encampments, we count the days at risk for encampment through the
date when the last encampment was verified to have ended, May 2012. In total, we examine up to
250 days of media coverage for each possible encampment, beginning from September 17, 2011.
Our pair of dependent variables to model the role of media on when encampments were
evicted (the speed of institutional counteraction against institutional entrepreneurs) were
operationalized similarly. We operationalized the speed of counteraction as the timing of Occupy
encampments’ forced departure from their initial location. Thus, our third dependent variable,
forced departure, was assigned a value of 1 if an encampment was shut down by government
representatives at any point during our sampling frame and a value of 0 if it was not. The forced
departure of an encampment at an initial location was frequently due to either a local government
mandate that the encampment be disassembled, or a mandate that the encampment be relocated.
Our final dependent variable, days to forced departure, was measured as the number of days from
the day each frame was articulated and the date on which the initial encampment was moved or