If the Occupy movement had been more about social mobility than social justice, you’d have never heard of it.
As one of the few political movements in recent memory that has made a concerted effort to address the gap between the rich and the poor, it has done little to help middle-class Americans find a job, pay rent, or have an adequate life.
Its social justice credentials, on the other hand, are well-established.
Social mobility, as the Occupy Wall Street movement has been calling for, is an issue that needs to be addressed, not just by the mainstream political system, but by the private sector as well.
But that doesn’t mean the movement’s focus on social mobility has always been the most important part of the story.
In fact, it’s not the only thing that needs attention, as long as the movement is not going to become an outlier, says Adam Rifkin, a professor at the School of Social Work at New York University.
In other words, if social mobility is a priority, the movement should not just focus on its own social issues, but also its broader social policy initiatives.
A good start to solving social mobility problems, Rifkins says, is to ensure that the federal government is making progress on addressing the gaps in income and wealth.
“We don’t need the federal budget to fund it,” he says.
“We need it to provide a platform for people to organize and organize, which can then be used to fight for progressive reforms.”
The best way to do that is to make sure that the public sector is paying attention to social mobility issues.
“The Occupier’s “Social Justice Agenda” While the Occupy Movement’s social justice agenda has garnered support from politicians from both parties, it was the economic issues that dominated the movement that have had the biggest impact on the movement.
The movement, which began in New York in 2009, has been largely focused on issues of income inequality and income mobility.
For the movement to be successful, however, it will need to reach beyond the Occupy bubble to help other segments of society, says David Rauch, a social justice researcher at the University of Southern California.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the failure of the Occupy movements to make progress on social justice issues, he says, including the failure to build a mass base among those in lower-income groups.
As for the movement itself, Rauches says the movement was “not a good fit for a social movement.”
It didn’t provide a consistent platform for building a movement, and its supporters were unwilling to embrace the idea of mass participation.
Even with that caveat, the Occupy groups successes, and the social justice priorities they espoused, were not enough to help the movement achieve its goals.
To be sure, there are those within the movement who support some of the reforms that were championed by the Occupy protests, including a minimum wage hike, expanded social security, and an end to the death penalty.
Rauch is not one of those.
He sees the Occupy “movement as a very good vehicle for advancing progressive social justice,” but says “it was not enough.”
Social justice and economic justice, he argues, are “two sides of the same coin,” and should not be treated differently.
If the Occupy is going to be a “good fit” for progressive social reform, he cautions, it must reach out to those in the lowest-income segments of the population.
He also suggests that the movement “must focus on building support for the broader social agenda” and not focus exclusively on the Occupy.
Ultimately, he adds, “the Occupy movement’s success is a consequence of the success of progressive movements in other parts of the country.
If Occupy fails to do its job in the South, the rest of the nation will see the failure.
If the movement succeeds in the Northeast, the entire country will see its failure.
“For more on this topic, see: How to make the most of a new generation of social justice activists by Adam Rifekin, David Rifkis and David J. Raucks article This article was originally published on The American Conservatives.