Tag Archives: Responsible Banking Ordinances

A reflection on 2011: Declaring “war on inequality” means changing public values

Reflecting upon the events of 2011, I am reminded of a thought exercise Bill Gamson presented to the participants of the Young Scholars in Social Movements conference in April 2011. There was one question that especially stood out (and this is from my handwritten notes so I apologize if I don’t have this exactly right): “There has been a dramatic increase in economic inequality in the US since the 1970s. Yet there is no popular surge of moral indignation at the unfairness of it all and no social movement to demand to stop and reverse the trend.  People may be aware of this fact and angry about it, but their attention and anger doesn’t seem to get channeled into organized collective action.” Keep in mind that the conference took place before anyone heard of the Occupy movement; when to most, the word “occupy” still simply meant “to fill up space.”

It took three decades but inequality itself (as opposed to poverty, welfare and economic hardship) has become a salient political issue, thanks in large part to the Occupy movement (see The Economist, Oct. 26th). Continue reading


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OWS and Responsible Banking

Since its beginnings in September, much commentary on Occupy Wall Street has focused on what, if any, coherent political platforms its participants espouse and on whether the movement will a) flame out, or b) get co-opted by the political establishment. But because the Occupy Wall Street protests remain pointedly non-programmatic and non-hierarchical, commentators have been able (or forced?) to treat them as a cipher with which to forward their own political agendas. As a result, there has been an inordinate amount of commentary telling the movement what it is, where it comes from, and what it should be doing. That said, one theme running through the Occupy protests has been a critique of the close relationships between the financial industry and government which, given the continuing foreclosure crisis across the country, has provided a potential object of attention for protestors, activists, and policy-makers to work together. Continue reading

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