Split samples

Defining Occupy Wall Street: How the Wall Street Journal and Activist Blogs Define The Movement as Legitimate

Group 9: Alexa Fiander, Caitlin Rindal, Christine Moloney, and Somin Bach


The media can play a pivotal role in the development of social movements and reforms.  Studying the ways in which different media sources talk about the legitimacy of the Occupy Wall Street Movement (The Movement)provides an interesting lens into how opposing media platforms portray the movement and influence readers.  Specifically, our group compared how the Wall Street Journal, a traditional media source, and 99% activist blogs defined The Movement’s legitimacy.  The comparison between traditional and nontraditional media sources allowed us to analyze discrepancies found in the reporting and portrayal of Occupy Wall Street in relation to legitimacy.  Because the general public is primarily exposed to traditional media sources, any discrepancies found between our discourse genres can have powerful implications about the public’s knowledge and understanding of The Movement.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and activist blogs differed significantly in their portrayal and representation of Occupy Wall Street as a legitimate movement.  Specifically, the WSJ de-legitimized The Movement by depicting protesters as criminals, favoring quotes from non-protesters, and by establishing The Movement as disorganized and leaderless. Contrary to our traditional media source of study, we found that activist blogs used similar discourse strategies as the WSJ; however, they were used in a way to legitimize The Movement and the protesters’ actions.

Our research paper will analyze each pattern noted above using two specific Discourse Analysis methods.  We will begin by discussing Discourse Analysis as whole as well as the methods we selected for the project.  We will then move into the examination of our three patterns chosen, providing examples and analysis for each.


The practice of language construction gives meaning to specific events, circumstances, things, or people (Wodak and Meyer, 2009).  Language use is highly intertwined with identity construction, as one develops and defines whom they are based on certain interactions, symbols and value systems that are often shaped by discourse (Gee, 2005).  The construction or use of discourse itself can provide interesting insight into inequalities, power stratification, or other deeper connotative meanings within the text.  In order to assess and evaluate texts, discourse analysts employ specific tools that facilitate critical analysis of discourse.

Specifically, discourse analysts draw from two broad approaches when evaluating data: Corpus Linguistics and Qualitative Coding (Gill, 2000). The first is generally considered to be more quantitative, as analysts draw on word frequencies, collocation table, concordance lines, etc., that often provide interesting insight into word choice, cotext, context, etc. (Sinclair, 1998). The second approach, qualitative coding, can be used to draw on patterned themes throughout a corpus to highlight interesting observations about how language is used.  Specific tools such as grammar, syntax, semantics, backgrounding, etc., are all examples of qualitative coding (Wodak and Meyer, 2009).

For the analysis of our project, we will employ both corpus linguistics and qualitative coding methods.  In regards to corpus linguistics, we will primarily focus on a lexical analytical strategy for studying word choice.  We will specifically use word frequencies and context as tools to analyze my corpus. These tools will reveal interesting insights into meaning construction, especially in regards to the association words can develop based on the context (Sinclair, 1998).  The second analytical strategy we will use is a qualitative coding method that evaluates the use of certain grammatical strategies that can be used to legitimize or de-legitimize certain people, institutions, and processes of ideas. This tool is highly useful for revealing stratified power relations (Fairclough, 2003).

Our group focused on two contrasting discourse genres: The Wall Street Journal for our traditional news media outlet and activist blogs including ThisBlogThis!, Gothamist, Political Machine, Act Now!, Down With Tyranny, Pacific Free Press, Barefoot and Progressive, and Jobsanger for our non-traditional media outlets.  We selected our articles based on their relevance to The Movement within the date range of September 1st to October 31st, 2011.  We chose our specific media outlets because they are news sources that appear to have a profound impact on their demographic’s view of the legitimacy of The Movement.  Comparing the discourse between our contrasting publications reveals much about the power structure in the United States and how those ideologies are reproduced through certain texts.


Pattern 1: Depiction of Crime/illegal behavior of protesters: WSJ focused heavily on arrests/criminal behavior of protesters. BLOGS: referred to the movement as peaceful, with very few arrests.

One way the WSJ authors reproduced images of The Movement being illegitimate was through the portrayal of protesters as criminals.  The authors frequently used language to refer to the activists’ social deviance and illegal behavior.  Even though many of the authors may not have been outwardly implying that the protesters were criminals, the word choice, specifically in regards to the lexical forms of ‘arrest,’ and ‘illegal’ were commonly used throughout the corpus.  We specifically used the corpus linguistic tools word frequencies and key word in context to evaluate the significance and meaning of the words ‘arrest’ and ‘illegal.’  First, our group noticed that the lexical forms of arrest (including arrested and arrests) occurred 53 times in the corpus.  The KWIC excerpts also revealed that the lemmas of arrest were generally referring to protesters and their socially deviant behaviors.  The second example that supports our pattern of WSJ portraying the protester’s behaviors as criminals is the use and frequency of the word ‘illegal.’  The word frequency table below shows that ‘illegal’ showed up 8 times in my corpus.  See below for word frequency/ KWIC tables for both ‘arrest’ and ‘illegal.’

On the contrary, blogs turned the story around by portraying protesters as victims of illegal police practices such as the infamous pepper spray incident or arresting activists without warrant. Unlike WSJ, the blogs did not have to imply negative descriptions but used the fact that it was unrestricted to fully criticize the police. When the blog posts were put through the collocation word analysis tool, the lexical forms of “arrest” and “protesters” were commonly juxtaposed together throughout the corpus. “Arrest,” and other lexical forms of “arrest” (see above), occurred 5 times in the corpus. The KWIC excerpts showed that protesters were arrested either wrongfully or in large numbers. This amplified the effect of “illegal” police behaviors towards protesters, especially when numbers (i.e. “dozens” “hundreds”) were added to emphasize how protesters were affected by this. Also, the KWIC excerpts revealed that police were enforcing “wrongful” arrests and civil rights violations.

Words take on meaning in relation to how they are used, their context, and the frequency of their use.  Word frequency lists and KWIC tables are especially important tools for providing a general picture of a text or selection of texts (Adolphs, 2006).  Therefore, in light of the Adolphs reading, the use and frequency of the word ‘arrest,’ ‘illegal,’ and ‘protesters’ give powerful revelations regarding the WSJ and blogs’ portrayal of what it means to be an Occupy Wall Street protester.  Significant usage of a word or similar words, especially if they are used in a consistent context, can greatly shape and affect the ways audiences understand a person, event, idea, etc. (Adophs, 2006).  Both the words ‘illegal’ and ‘arrest’ are commonly used in the WSJ corpus to reference the protesters’ criminal activity, creating a pattern of portraying activists as criminals, thus delegitimizing The Movement.  Furthermore, references of illegal/criminal activity were almost non-existent in the corpus for actors other than protesters, which enhanced the association of activists being synonymous or connected to criminals. Meanwhile, using words ‘arrest’ and ‘protesters’ together effectively helped portray protesters as victims of police force. Interesting references to history also created the effect of legitimizing the victimization of the protesters.

WSJ: Word Frequency for ‘Arrest’ and ‘Illegal’ (+lemmas)
Word: Count:
Arrest 3
Arrests 13
Arrested 15
Illegal 8
Blogs: Word Frequency for ‘Arrest’ and ‘Protester’ (+lemmas)
Word: Count:
Arrest 5
Arrests 18
Arrested 35
Protester 3
Protesters 104

WSJ: Selection of KWIC Examples for ‘Arrest’ and ‘Illegal’ (+lemmas)

Officers arrested 85 protestors over the weekend after they marched
Checked for outstanding arrest warrants then released
But also for resisting arrest, obstructing government administration and in one instance for assault of a police officer
Dozens of demonstrators who have vowed to “occupy” Wall Street were arrested Saturday on the seventh day of the social media-fueled protest
There were approximately 80 arrests Mainly for disorderly conduct

BLOGS: Selection of KWIC Examples for ‘Arrest’ and ‘Protester’ (+lemmas)
Accusations of wrongful arrest and civil rights violations
Over 1,000 protesters have been Arrested . I stand with the protesters…
Hundreds Arrested Across country
Largest mass Arrests In U.S. history
The event quickly turned into one of the largest arrests Of non-violent protesters in recent history.

Pattern 2: Quoting discrepancies

Not only did the WSJ lack quotes from protestors, but it also rarely gave adequate attribution or titles to those activists who were allowed to speak in the texts.  In contrast, however, non-protesters, who consequently often had opposing opinions to The Movement, were often given significant credit and background information before or after their quote.  This discrepancy between accreditation can have a great effect on how the readers view the legitimacy of a person, process, or idea.  One article from October 3rd, titled “Potluck Amid the Protest” reveals the contrasting representation for both protesters and non-protesters.

Non-protester: “ ‘You assemble a large mass and there is going to be some sort of party atmosphere,’ said Andrew Krucoff, a 40-year-old Internet entrepreneur who runs the website Young Manhattanite.  [He was] partaking in a potluck Shabbat dinner and toasting the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana at Zuccotti Park.  They sipped apple juice and ate challah, fruit, hummus and potato chips. There was even a brief prayer service.”

Protester: “The setting also attracted singles. ‘I’m here to protest the wars we’re in,’ said Yvonne Gougelet, a theater actress hanging out with the Shabbat crowd. ‘It’s a lot of work; we’re all educating one another. But I’m not going to lie: I’ve also been looking for a really hot guy with a beard to offer him a shower.’

In contrast to the WSJ articles, the activist blog articles had a greater amount of quotes from protesters than those from non-protesters.  In fact in the articles that were collected, there was just one quote from a non-protestor. When presenting those people giving the quotes, there was more detail about them and their backgrounds, especially those who held some position of authority than those of non-protesters. These differences can be seen in the September 18th article from Act Now! titled “#OccupyWallStreet: Searching for Hope in America” and in the September 17th article from Gothamist titled “Anonymous’s Occuptation Of Wall Street Begins At Noon,” respectively.

Protester: Matthew is a 40-year-old father of two who says he is attending the protest because he had no other recourse. “My home has been seized, I’m unemployed, there’s no job prospects on the horizon. I have two children and I don’t see a future for them. This is the only way I see to effect change,” he says.

Non-protester: Mayor Bloomberg told his eponymous news organization, “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it. As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds.”

The contrasting quotes above show the significant difference between the accreditation protesters and non-protesters receive when being quoted in both the WSJ and blogs.  Using the Discourse Analysis tool for Legitimation, it becomes obvious that the publications that we analyzed used specific grammatical relations to establish legitimacy for certain social actors, while delegitimizing others.

The first WSJ quote primarily used moral evaluation to give accreditation to Andrew Krucoff, the entrepreneur and active member of the Jewish community.  Moral evaluation refers to the authorization or legitimacy given based on moral values or association with a system of moral values, such as being a member of the Jewish community (Fairclough, 2003).  Krucoff was also given a rather lengthy background paragraph that portrayed him as intelligent and civilized member of society who “sipped on apple juice and ate challah […].” Gougelet’s quote, however, received a significantly less descriptive and detailed accreditation.  As a result, she lost credibility, and her statement appeared less legitimate.  According to the excerpt, Gougelet was a “theater actress hanging out with the Shabbat crowd.” The author could have easily added legitimacy to Gougelet’s statement by using authorization (tied to institutional status) or rationalization (tied to institutional practices) grammatical strategies, such as listing her education or known roles in plays (Fairclough, 2003). The WSJ often uses these specific grammatical strategies to legitimize or delegitimize certain social actors.

The quote from the blog Act Now! gives Matthew credibility by revealing his background information, as well as, his reasons for being active in The Movement. Although only having his first name cited lessens the power we see this protester having, the background information that we are given portrays him as credible because he has legitimate reasons for participating in The Movement. This can be attributed to the method of moral evaluation mentioned above. Protesters were given much more background information as to why the specifically joined in/supported The Movement. Mayor Bloomberg’s quote, for example, simply listed his name, and consequently his occupation, which depends solely on authorization by tying him to the governmental institution that he works for (Fairclough, 2003). This gives him credibility because of the power associated with government institutions making his statement legitimate. The lack of background information gives the impression that his statement appears less legitimate than those of protesters because readers are able to relate to them through that personal information.

By not giving protesters adequate or fair representation, the WSJ is significantly exacerbating stratified power relations between activists and non-activists, as legitimacy is not fairly allocated to both sides. Blogs give protesters adequate and fair representation while limiting the information given about non-protesters in order to allow readers to focus on the legitimacy of the movement. This creates a more equal allocation of legitimation to both sides, but is not perfect.

Pattern 3: Portrayal of the movement’s purpose

The third pattern observed throughout these articles about The Movement was the different portrayals of The Movement’s purpose. More specifically WSJ dismisses The Movement as disorganized and leaderless while the blogs attempts to surface the true purpose behind The Movement.  In our qualitative coding of the corpus, we observed over ten instances where the critiques of The Movement deemed it as leaderless and therefore illegitimate.  This clearly indicates the high level of intolerance for a group which clearly lacks the traditional form people are accustomed to in the United States.  As a result, WSJ is deeming this nontraditional structure as unacceptable and illegitimate.  Some examples of this particular code include describing The Movement as having “no clear-cut goals” and having “few signs demonstrators were coalescing around a set of demands.”  The protesters were merely “a leaderless, unpredictable group” with “no one [who] could offer me a coherent explanation of why they hated Wall Street.”  One article blatantly stated, “The Occupy Wall Street Movement needs to sit down, focus and come up with a list of demands that might conceivably be met.”  While the articles argued that the “huge numbers of confused and directionless young people” had “merely a vague idea to end injustice,” they “asked how long a leaderless movement could last.”  If the protesters’ “demands are free-floating, [and] hazy,” how can a solution be found?  If they don’t “seem to have a coherent or identifiable agenda,” how can they change the system?

All in all, WSJ has made their position on the subject very clear: a leaderless and illegitimate social movement will fail.  In our capitalist society, WSJ and other publications like it, maintain control of its subjects’ ideology through a hegemonic culture where certain values are seen as common sense and therefore create a culture of consensus where people only seek to maintain the status quo.  According to Peter Ives in Language and Hegemony in Gramsci, this idea of hegemony was outlined by Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist Antonio Gramsci (2004).  The hegemonic ideal is outlined by WSJ and the people follow it, accepting it as common sense.  In the field of Discourse Analysis texts are considered socially constitutive.  In other words, texts serve to organize society.  This implies that because WSJ is held in high regard by much of society, they in turn have the power to institute, establish, or enact their own agenda.  This power is manifested through WSJ articles, where their texts serve as a method to organize society.

Bloggers, on the other hand, portrayed The Movement with a specific purpose and focused on group collaboration rather than having a leader. All of the blog articles in the corpus referred to the reasons why the movement was occurring, which mainly pointed to issues with relations between wealth and power. In the thirty three excerpts identified during the open coding process that dealt with reasons behind the movement and therefore legitimate, all thirty three illustrated the negative effects of power being given to the wealthy: corporations in this case. The bloggers are clearly portraying that the movement is legitimate through the exposure of the power stratification between corporations and citizens as stated in one article that “what unites them all is the opposition to the principle that has come to dominate not only our economic lives but our entire lives: profit over and above all else”. Some examples of this include “the influence of big money in politics” and describing our current government as not by the people, for the people, but “a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. And it is killing this country.” Many power relations spoken of in the corpus followed the same theme of corporations influencing American politics through their wealth making their voices louder than those of citizens. This pattern is demonstrated through one article stating that “they didn’t just funnel more money and power to the corporations — they actually let corporate executives write all of the laws relating to the economy and economic regulations.”

Protesters have attempted to make it very clear what they are hoping will change with their actions. One article, in fact, actually lists several demands that they have included in the overall “one demand” statement which has been adopted as a general term rather than describing literally “one” demand. Through the recurring theme of wealth and power we can see that they are strongly related using the Discourse Analysis tool of semantic reversal: deriving the meaning of a word or idea from its cotext (Sinclair, 1998). Specifically, semantic preference shows that a trend towards collocation with words that are associated with negativity and power gives the same semantic features of those words to the words or ideas in question (Adolphs, 2006). The bloggers use this to show that the movement is legitimate through the negative effect and overuse of power by corporations. Their focus is on revealing that there is a significant separation in the power among corporations and citizens simply based on wealth, taking away citizens’ voices, which is the root of the problem in which the quality of life of Americans is deteriorating.

By condemning the protesters as leaderless criminals, WSJ produces the institutionalized power relations through its discourse; this is known as functionalist structuralism. By establishing the hegemonic ideologies through discourse and specifying the protesters as powerless and leaderless criminals, WSJ succeeds in delegitimizing The Movement in the eyes of its mainstream, traditional readers and therefore the majority of middle to upper class Americans. What readers may realize by reading the blog articles, though, is that they work to expose those power relations that the WSJ reinforces in their wording. Some even say that this difference in presentation is because it is “a problem that the corporate-owned mainstream media is not going to cover. They won’t cover it because they are owned and controlled by those same corporations, and they are part of the problem.”


In conclusion, WSJ succeeded in de-legitimizing The Movement by establishing it as disorganized and leaderless while portraying protesters as criminals and failing to properly represent the protesters through their choice of quotations. In contrast, the blogs succeeded in legitimizing The Movement by portraying the activists as victims, properly representing the activists through quotations and by successfully communicating the purpose behind The Movement.  It is clear that there is a very strong distinction between the two genres of discourse.  In this paper, we used methods of corpus linguistics and qualitative coding to support our claim.

The findings support the idea that an established institution like WSJ uses its power and affluence to establish the hegemonic idea that The Movement is illegitimate. In a capitalist society, where society is ruled by corporations and large companies that oversee the vast majority of mainstream media, it is certainly easy for the majority of the public to be susceptible to their influence. It is difficult to imagine a world where major newspapers, like WSJ, are not controlled by the wealthy and affluent. If we lived in a society where the gaps between the classes weren’t so vast, where the rich just keep getting richer and the poor are just getting poorer, then maybe these hegemonic ideals would not be so strictly ingrained in our media.

On the other hand, the world seems to be changing.  The wealthy and the affluent are not the only people with a voice.  The concepts of blogging and social media sites give voices to those who made have never been heard otherwise.  Previously marginalized groups are realizing that if they speak, someone just might listen.  This is precisely what The Occupy Wall Street Movement proves.  Even though large mainstream media sources, like WSJ, continuously refuse to support a movement that completely condemns all that makes them a successful and important corporation in this capitalist society, there may come a time where all that ceases to matter and regular people like you and I create the hegemonic ideologies in our own society on our own terms.  Who will have the power to establish these ideologies?  Right now we are at a tipping point, but unfortunately we will certainly still see the powerful enforcement of hegemonic ideologies through the media for many years to come.  However, this may be a glimpse into a future with a world of change. The Occupy Wall Street Movement declares that we are not alone, we are not silent, and together we have a voice.


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The College Option: Protrayal of Upward Mobility in Tumblr and New York Times

Group 21: Bryan Austin, Jamie Christianson, Cassandra Hathaway, & Roberto Whyte


The specific focus that we have chosen to tackle is “education” and the ways in which it has been a topic of inequality throughout the Occupy movement. While the Occupy movement has revealed many topics of inequality, we as college students are especially conscious of the ways in which it has impacted our own lives, and the lives of other college students. Our mission for this project is to further research these topics of inequality—such as the rising cost of higher education, both in financial and personal terms, and to truly understand how the experiences of college students have been portrayed throughout the Occupy movement. Students experience inequality in education through the rising costs of attaining a college education, both personally and financially; these costs are then worsened by the state of the economy which makes a college degree less valued. Our group decided to use Tumblr and New York Times to look at the topic of upward mobility in regards to inequality. We chose these forms of discourse due to their popularity and the historical significance each share as a space to gain accurate and up-to-date conversations concerning current social events. Through the study of these two discourse genres, we have found that debt is a major topic that is often intensified when discussing education, lack of job opportunities create an expression of fear and disappointment regarding the education of graduates, and an over-arching ideology that is being challenged, which will change the meaning of higher education.


Discourse analysis is the way that we study language usage, spoken, written, and visually, in an effort to make sense of the choices made by the author. Every author presents a story in a different way, using many options they have. Discourse analysis gives us tools that help us to understand lexical and grammatical choices. Some of the tools we have used to analyze this corpus are: key word counts, collocation, and concordance. Key word counts simply allow us to see how prevalent a word is within a corpus, which can be turned into a ratio to compare to other corpora. According to Svenja Adolph, our project mainly focused on “positive keywords” (words that occur significantly more than others), with my own interest falling on ‘debt’, being one of the most frequently used words (Adolph, 45). Concordance lines allow us to choose a key word and view the 5 words before and after, in order to see the context that the word falls in. Collocation tables show us the frequency in which a word occurs within 5 words of a keyword, allowing us to see patterns in representation (Sinclair, 15). The collocation was also a significant tool in our analysis of Tumblr. I also used the theory of ideology (a way of viewing social phenomena), as this was a key tool in understanding the reasoning behind the stories depicted in Tumblr. (Van Dijk, 384).

Prior to the ’99% Occupy Movement’ and student movements that are occurring throughout theUnited States, New York Times had already been dealing with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In fact, many would agree that students did not become noticeably involved until October and November of 2011. As OWSM grew in popularity, students joined in. The social network site Tumblr began receiving personal stories from people all over the country. These stories were of the utmost importance to us, as we wanted to look comparatively at howNew York Times discusses educational inequality, versus those that actually experience it first hand. For us, the personal experiences of education (fear, failure and disappointment regarding higher education) seemed more significant than commentary by a journalist.

When we were choosing which texts to include in our corpus, we decided to only use articles from October and November of 2011, in order to capture the beginning of the movement. Since our group had two corpora, Jamie and I focused on the documents from Tumblr. We each collected 30 images with descriptions from one of the months, so that we would have a total of 60 articles. From the Tumblr corpus, the total number of words was 6141, with 1289 types of words. This corpus had a type/token ratio of 0.21. We have decided to use these parameters because we wanted to see the initial reasoning for following the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and how education was being talked about with those initial reasons.


Student loan debt has been a major issue when discussing education on Tumblr. Most of the individuals who posted about themselves discussing education made a comment about their debt involved with this education. While a few stated that they were lucky enough to leave school debt-free, this was not the case for the majority of posters. Because debt was one of the ideas that interested me, I used concordance lines of the lemma ‘debt’ and found that an overwhelming number of individuals had used a number to express the depth of the problems they are experiencing. Of those who did have student loan debt, 23 out of the 38 excerpts involving student loans had used a concrete number to express how much debt the individual had. One individual wrote:

I have $90K in student loan debt. My payments are 20% of my income. By the time I pay off my debt, I will have paid the government double what I borrowed.

This individual had a very large amount of debt, and was very detailed by telling the audience that the payments on her loans are a major portion of her income. Stories of large amounts of student debt were not at all uncommon on Tumblr, as another individual writes:

I am a 26 year old graduate with $120,000 in student loans.

This process of using concrete numbers is intensification. These numbers allow the reader to have a better idea of how significant the amount of student loan debt. If these individuals would have simply stated that they have student loan debt, the reader would not have understood the issue to be as grave as it is.

Students who posted their stories on Tumblr have related higher education to success and power. When sharing their personal stories, though all very different, a commonality seems to be the over-all disappointment that each individual feels in their degree and/or education, themselves, the economy, and their government. People are seeing education costs rising, both personally and financially, and cannot overcome the debt they take on to achieve their goals. As we pulled excerpt after excerpt, I began seeing references to the “American Dream.” We soon became fascinated with this illusive “American Dream” and counted how many times the word “dream” appeared in our corpus. Despite having a fairly small corpus in comparison to other groups, the word “dream” still came up a total of 9 different times, with other words such as “debt” appearing 38 times. From the excerpts we pulled, combined with our knowledge of the greater ideologies at play—we began to see the connection between the “American Dream,” success, and education. These ideas were interconnected, and we couldn’t help but acknowledge how many people seemed to be basing their worth off of social ideologies regarding education as means to achieve success and the illusive “American Dream” (Van Dijk, 384). Growing up in this country, we are constantly reminded about the American Dream. The American Dream is an ideology that we can use as a lens to look at the world. We are taught that if you work hard and are educated, success will be yours. Our educational system is built upon this idea. However, the Wearethe99% Tumblr questions this ideology, with its evidence that the American Dream is a falsehood for many. Because of the debt individuals expressed, as well as the high rates of unemployment of college graduates, these individuals believe that they were told a lie. Qualitative coding allowed us to read through excerpts and identify them as having this theme regarding the American Dream, from this alongside concordance lines of ‘dream’, I was able to see that many educated people are not achieving the dream:

Now what? I feel completely misled – I was always told that if I worked hard I could have that “American Dream”. Now I’m just loaded in debt, so those degrees are worthless.

It is almost a type of moral evaluation, because the success expected through the American Dream is deeply tied to being the ideal citizen, and it calls the morals of the storytellers of the American Dream into question as well:

I was raised to believe that if I went to college and worked hard, I could get a job and a living wage. Maybe it was true once, but now the American Dream is a lie.

Another pattern we want to discuss illustrates the use of re-occurring lexical units such as “fear,” “terrified,” and “scared” when discussing the future. As gathered from Adolph, these re-occurring words are considered “positive keywords” and hold much significance (Adolph, 45). We found this pattern to be worth mentioning because of how common it was, but also because it was contradicting it was to America’s over-arching ideologies, which suggest that education will bring success and power. Though each individual presented a very different set of circumstances and context, there were common themes of a fear for the future, and a sense of helplessness for their fate, as we saw these terms appearing about 8 times combined. While we cannot assume that our analysis of these particular texts will be representative of all texts for this social event, we have begun to attribute these common feelings of fear for the future as something closely related to the theory of ideology (Van Dijk, 384). As mentioned earlier, we believe we (U.S.citizens and non-citizens a-like) are all living under larger ideologies that shape our perspectives so that we believe higher education has the ability to bring us success and power. When these connotative assumptions are wrong, or do not pay off—we become fearful for the future, and seem to experience a sense of helplessness in our own lives. As Van Dijk argues, “ideologies, thus informally defined, are general systems of basic ideas shared by the members of a social group, ideas that will influence their interpretation of social events and situations and control their discourse and other social practices as group members” (Van Dijk, 380). Perhaps then, the ideologies at play, though they may be false notions, are reinforced by society to make us think that education is our key to success. So now, when this is no longer working, our helplessness and fear for the future are accentuated when our only key to success and power (education) does not work.

In the excerpts studied, college students are very much contemplating on the value of their investment in education. Often the meaning of a clause or phrase is derived from the sum of its lexical units. John Sinclair explains in his book Contrastive Lexical Semantics “Whenever the meaning arises predominantly from textual environment rather than the item choice, it is considered to be an instance of semantic reversal” (Sinclair, 1998). When applying this process to one excerpt it becomes clear that Gan Golan is finding less value in his education investment. In another, again we see terms that show us students are very concerned about the investment and commitment required for completing a college degree and the possible risk of getting nothing back in return. In nearly the entire collection of excerpts collected from a student’s perspective, the students carry the same message education in today’s society holds less value than just a decade ago. Then you have many economists predicting that new job growth will continue to be hampered by emerging economies such as China and India and that U.S. companies will be creating more jobs in these markets rather than at home. This information continues to discourage many young adults coming out of high school to seek higher education. If we continue to apply the process of semantic reversal it becomes clear that we can now see the shift in attitudes towards higher education. What this is doing to younger Americans is placing them in the middle of social conflict. Signing up for the armed services was once a wise choice for offsetting some of the expense of getting a degree however with America involved in many conflicts around the world this option is also less appealing. Youngsters really are running out of options. It is understandable why they may begin to feel apathetic.


The Occupy Wall Street movement has been a topic of interest for several months, and many have entered into this discussion. Through our analysis of Tumblr, we found many personal stories, and found a lack of personal stories in the New York Times. However, both corpora showed similarities. Students experience inequality in education through the rising costs of attaining a college education, both personally and financially; these costs are then worsened by the state of the economy which makes a college degree less valued. Through the study, we have found that debt is often intensified when discussing education, lack of job opportunities creates an expression of fear and disappointment regarding the education of graduates, and the over-arching ideology of education is challenged, which will alter the meaning of higher education. Through our careful analysis, we have seen that higher education is coming to mean less and less in the job market, which will eventually cause a shift in ideology, if things continue in this manner. Students and graduates struggle with the idea that their success did not come as it was assured to us.


Adolphs, Svenja. “Exploring Frequencies in Texts: Basic Techniques.” Chapter 3 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London;New York; Routledge, 2006. 37-50.

Bauer, M. W., & Gaskell, G. (2000). Qualitative researching with text, image and sound: A practical handbook.Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Bauer. , Martin, , & Bas Aarts, (2000). Corpus construction: A principle for qualitative data collection. (Vol. 2, pp. 19-37).London: Sage.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analyzing discourse; textual analysis for social research. (pp. 87-104).London: Routledge.

Laura, V. (n.d). Grads: Pursue a realistic dream. USA Today.

Sinclair, J. (1998). Contrastive lexical semantics . (171 ed., pp. 1-24).Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Sinclair, John. “The Lexical Item.” In Contrastive Lexical Semantics. Ed. Edda Weigand.Amsterdam;Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 1998. 1-24.

Van Dijk, T. (2011). Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction. (2nd Ed.) London,UK: Sage.

Occupy Wall Street:  From the Point of View of Fox News and News

Group #2: Ariel (An) Tang, Sarah Divya, Adriene de Leuw, Richard Bounds, and Bobby (Robert) Nguyen


The Occupy Wall Street Movement centers around government policies and how politics play a predominant role in the outcome. Therefore, it will be interesting to look into how these various governmental bodies are represented in the media. Our media is typically controlled by members of the 1%, who hold influential power in this country, while the movement itself is created by the other 99%. That is why it is important to examine this phenomenon, and see how the media presents the two groups’ opinions about the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Also, since this is an election year, it will be interesting to see how the presidential candidates attack this controversial issue.

This post’s central focus is based on how mainstream news media outlets report different and conflicting viewpoints when discussing and generating opinions on governmental bodies efforts surrounding the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

In this analysis we will examine three patterns we found to differentiate the two binary positions in our corpora, news and FOX news. We will demonstrate how we used word frequencies and structured coding to incorporate corpus linguistic and qualitative methods in our analysis. Furthermore, we will explain the discourse genre and corpus we evaluated to support our thesis.


One corpus linguistic method is Word Frequencies, which generates a list of all words in the text and how frequently they occur. This includes word occurrence and phrase occurrence.  In addition, “word frequency distributions have been studied for corpora as well as for subsets of words selected according to some linguistic criterion” (Baayen, 1992).  This method is useful for our analysis since “norming techniques can facilitate the comparison of individual items across two corpora in terms of overall frequency of occurrence” (Adolphs, 2006). Thus, we were able to compare the frequencies of certain lexical items, such as Democrat and Republican, between our individual corpus and our group’s larger corpora.

One qualitative coding method is structured coding, which is a process of looking for a set series of patterns (codes) in the corpus.  This includes locating every instance of the pattern and determining differences and commonalities between excerpts.  Our group could then, “analyze several parts and their connections, that is the specific way they could be linked or connected to form a meaningful picture” (Bauer, 285). Thus, we can use these patterns to examine how media portray governmental bodies within the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

We chose news and Fox news for two different perspectives on the Occupy Wall Street Movement. We are looking at how governmental bodies are portrayed through these two news sources. Generally Fox news is more conservative, while CNN usually leans towards the liberal side. We hope to find differences in how the two publications describe this movement with these two varying viewpoints. Our group focused on the two months following the first large protest because we feel that this period had the most crucial media coverage. We searched for articles from September to November 2011.

We used split-sample method to divide our corpora into five individual corpus. We split the corpora based into two groups: news and Fox news. We used LexisNexis Academic Search Engine to search “Occupy Wall Street” on each respective website and within the date range of September to November 2011. Then we pulled articles within that date range so that each member has thirty different articles. The total token of both news and Fox news is 415,229 and the total type is 14,095. This gives the type/token ratio of 0.03394512 or 3.4%.


First finding: Fox news criticizes President Obama’s involvement in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Fox news criticizes President Obama’s action and efforts in restoring the Occupy Wall Street Movement. When speaking about President Obama’s actions within the movement, this news media source rarely praises or acknowledges the benefits of his actions during this event.  The articles within the corpus reinforce the news source’s position, which is against the ideas of the movement and the protesters involved.  Thus, they criticize Obama for his support towards this cause through the actions and comments he has made about it.  This idea is illustrated with the following excerpts:

“Never before has a boisterous campaign of civil disobedience punctuated by more than 700 arrests received the kind of warm welcome from a sitting president and his party that President Obama and leading Democrats have accorded to Occupy Wall Street.”

“Well, they are wrapping their arms around it, but around the tail, not the body of this movement. They are desperately trying to catch up with it. This is like an Obama campaign without Obama. And it’s a manifestation of this feeling on the left. That Obama has aligned himself with Goldman Sachs, sold himself out to those $3,500.00 a plate dinner companion of his. And there’s a real feeling on the left that he’s abandoned liberalism.”

After searching word frequencies and coding the sections about Obama’s interaction with the movement, in general, these passages represent President Obama as an “active” social actor within the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Thus, this sets up a pattern of activating the role that Obama has within the movement, as “the actor in processes (loosely, the one who does things and makes things happen)” (Fairclough, 2003).  Activating Obama puts him in the position of influencing the Occupy Movement, rather than a participant that is being affected or rather “passivated”.  Fox News discredits the President’s position, since he offers support and is associated with a group that is labeled as agenda-less, boisterous, and disobedient.  The process of activating his role as a social actor makes it seem that he largely agrees with the beliefs of the Wall Street Movement, which the news source believes to be bad.  This is an interesting pattern since as an election year, it is a crucial time for the President to maintain his support from voters and Fox News usually leans towards the conservative side (and against the President).  Therefore, Fox News criticizes Obama’s position and actions, by activating his role as a social actor within the Occupy Movement, which they are against.

Second finding: news establishes Present Obama as a powerful social actor. news identifies President Barack Obama as a powerful and influential social actor, who can make changes and take action against the Occupy Wall Street Movement. According to Fairclough, authorization is a form of “legitimation by reference to the authority of tradition, custom, law, and of persons in whom some kind of institutional authority is vested” (Fairclough, 2003). As the current President of the United States, Obama represents the authority and has the power to legitimate texts. Therefore, news often quotes Obama as an important source for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. My corpus has 30 articles in total and Obama is used as a source for 37 times. One example is the following except from news on October 6, 2011 shows how journalist quotes Obama to narrate the definition of the Occupy Movement:

“Protests cropping up in more than a dozen American cities prompted President Barack Obama to discuss the phenomenon Thursday by saying demonstrators “are giving voice” to those frustrated “about how our financial system works.”

In addition, Fairclough stated that social actors can be divided into “activated” or “passivated” and  “social actors can be represented impersonally as well as personally” (Fairclough, 2003). news portrayal President Obama personally and as an activated actor, who does things and make things happen. The following excerpt describes Obama as a responsible human being, who has acknowledged the problem of the Occupy Movement, and as a hopeful leader, who will protect his citizens:

“He acknowledges Americans are angry. He knows times are tough and he continues to fight to restore some much-needed protections for exactly the people in that crowd at Wall Street.” 

As an activated actor, Obama is also perceived as policy maker who can make changes of our social system and as a problem solver. For example, one quote stated “he has injected some fairness and balance into the economy to spur growth and job creation” ( news, October 7, 2011) This shows that not only news legitmaze its report on OWS Movement with President Obama’s role as an influential social actor, but also treats Obama as an actor who has the power to make changes and solve the issues aroused by the OWS Movement.

Third finding: Fox News’ conservative position makes its reports more subjective.

During our analysis, we found that Fox news has a more conservative viewpoint on the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and therefore report more subjectively in their articles. According to Fairclough, discourse theory includes the recontextualization of social events, which journalists often recontextualize an event for us through different representation of language use (Fairclough, 2003). Therefore, journalists from Fox News have the power to recontextualize a more subjective viewpoint of the Occupy Wall Street Movement to the readers. For example, Fox News tends to describe the OWS Movement more negatively, which is exemplified in the following quote:

“Even if this is another example of how frustrated the American people are, at the lack of leadership by Barack Obama. Fact is whether you are the far left of the spectrum or the right of the spectrum or somewhere in between, the one thing that everybody is agreeing on is, this president’s economic policies are a failure. I don’t agree with the Occupy Wall Street folks but the fact of the matter is, their frustration and anger is about the failure of this president. And everybody can agree on that”

The above quote shows Fox News’ negative portrayal of President Obama’s lack of leadership of taking a firm stand to resolve this issue. In contrast of our second finding, it is very interesting to see how Fox News perceives President Obama as an unfavorable social actor, whereas news identifies President Obama as an influential and powerful soical actor. This could be because CNN is a more neutral news provider, in comparison to Fox News which is more subjective. Furthermore, Fox News delegitimizes the Occupy Wall Street Movement and describes the Occupy demonstrators as protestors and mobs, which both words have a more negative connotation and meaning. The following quote illustrates this pattern:

“Continuing now with our lead story on these so-called anti- Wall Street protests popping up around the country. These mobs are now getting support from the biggest names in the Democratic Party.”

These two excerpts support the finding of how Fox News is more biased when reporting on events encompassing the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Since Fox News is on the right side of the governmental spectrum, which tends to be more conservative, this is unsurprising and is further evidence for why they would report on social actors, such as President Obama, more negatively. Reporting in this way helps strongly to sway voters opinions on the issue and how they will ultimately view and interact with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.


As stated above, this post’s central focus is based on how mainstream news media outlets report different and conflicting viewpoints when discussing and generating opinions on governmental bodies efforts surrounding the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The patterns discovered through our methods analysis included how Fox news criticizes President Obama’s involvement in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, how news establishes Present Obama as a powerful social actor and how Fox News’ conservative position makes its reports more subjective.

As a mainstream media, news draws on governmental bodies, institutions, and figures to legitimatize its texts and depict these governmental segments as powerful social actors and solution for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Fox News is a mainstream source where many citizens get their news information, and which usually leans towards the conservative side.  Thus, it is understandable that they generally would not be in favor of a movement supported by the Democratic Party or Democratic President Obama. This analysis helps to establish that the Occupy Wall Street Movement is generally unsupported by conservatives and this news source may appeal to those that disagree with how governmental bodies have interacted with this movement.  In conclusion, this analysis helps us to better understand the way that news sources help shape the general public’s opinion on the Occupy Wall Street Movement by using different viewpoints.


Adolphs, Svenja. “Exploring Words and Phrases in Use: Basic Techniques.” Chapter 4 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. 51-63.

Baayen, H. (December 01, 1992). Statistical Models for Word Frequency Distributions: A Linguistic Evaluation.Computers and the Humanities, 26, 6, 347-363.

Bauer, M. W., & Gaskell, G. (2000). Qualitative researching with text, image and sound: A practical handbook. London: SAGE.

Fairclough, N. (2003) Meaning relations between sentences and clauses (p. 87-104). In Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge

Fairclough, N. (2003) Representation of social events (p. 134-155). In Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge

The Voice: East vs. West Newspaper Representation of Protesters

Group 5


As the topical focus of our group, we focused on the issue of inequality and injustice in terms of how the protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the police involved were being portrayed in society. Thus, our research group thought it would be both interesting and compelling to pursue this topical focus in a way that challenged the thinking of mainstream cosmology by conducting a systematic review of the very media the movement opposes. By looking at the issue from two major publications, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, which are respectively located on either side of the U.S. coast (East and West), we were able to further assess the discourse happening (i.e. How they are talking about the issue, the police, the protesters, and the violence being inflicted). Later, we intend to collectively compare our respective data to uncover whether the locations affected the discourse (or journalistic accounts) or if there were other factors involved. Based upon our analysis of both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, we will make the argument that the mainstream journalists of The Los Angeles Times engaged in a process of legitimization of the police, thereby empowering them whereas, in The New York Times, the protesters were given power in the discourse through interviews and portrayals. To further solidify our claims, we will be analyzing several patterns within our sampled texts and subsequently draw upon discourse analysis methods, namely the CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis) and CL (Corpus Linguistics) traditions, and later discuss our results and the implications they have on the larger issue of power inequality and Occupy-related discourse.


Discourse analysis methods can serve to explain the relationship that discourse has with our social environment. This type of analysis rejects the notion that language is neutral. Rather, discourse analysts stress the significance of how texts can shape society (Gill, 2000). This idea is reinforced by Critical Discourse Analysis, which uses the relation of society and language to understand the concepts of power and inequality (Fairclough, Mulderrig, & Wodak, 2011).  For our analysis, we employed several methods that had a close association with the discipline of discourse analysis traditions, being CDA and CL. In the case of CDA (which employs social theories in analyzing discourse to understand the different micro-physics of power), we made extensive use of Theo Van Leeuwen’s strategies for legitimation, which is a part of a larger Social Actors Approach to understanding how individual actors within the text, are constantly engaging in a process to reproduce social structure (Wodak, 2009). We also utilized Gill’s speech-act theory because it is focused on conversation within the text and was thus important in our analysis of how protesters are represented through the accounts that they told (Gill, 2000). This essentially eased us into the CL approach to discourse analysis. This analysis focuses on larger bodies of texts, or corpora, using tools like concordance lines, collocation tables, and key word frequency (Adolphs, 2006). The aforementioned tools aided our group in being able to narrow our scope based on the words most closely associated with the protest paradigm and their meaning in the texts through the KWIC program.

Furthermore, the previously mentioned methods were applied to our groups discourse genre, being two very prominent, mainstream newspaper sources, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. These particular sources were considered to be an important set of public texts for our group to look at not only because of their positions as top outlets for mainstream media, but based upon the papers’ geographic locations (East and West). These locations play a great role in our analysis of the protest paradigm because both L.A. and N.Y. are widely considered to be “hotspots” for the Occupy movement and there has been a history of altercations with the police in those areas. Furthermore, in order to ensure that our group had a representative sample of both (ensure validity), our group split up into two, with one analyzing The New York Times and the other, The Los Angeles Times. Additionally, both groups looked at a series of lexical items and bundles in relation to the protest paradigm. We collected articles through a series of LexisNexis searches with the search parameters, “Occupy Wall Street” OR “Occupy movement” OR “99% Movement” AND “Violence”.  The “AND” term at the end was interchanged with the terms “Police Brutality”, “Police”, “Protest”, “Pepper Spray”, “Arrest”, “Tear Gas” and “Vandalism”.  This gave us a corpus that contained 1,845 articles from The New York Times at just fewer than 1.5 million words and 252 articles with a total of 199,562 words from The Los Angeles Times. Our group collectively felt that the eight main search words above would give us a wide array of instances in which injustices were happening within the Occupy Movement, from the perspectives of both the police and protesters.


Pattern 1: The Los Angeles Times: Journalists Justify Police Action Through Sources

One way that the journalists of the LA Times engaged in a process of justifying the actions of the police force (i.e. the use of pepper spray, the need to “sweep” out encampments, or conduct camp raids), can be seen in who they chose as official sources. Whenever cases that required a need for a particular course of action arose, mainstream journalists would draw upon official sources, namely police and city officials, health inspectors, and administrators, to attach positive attributes to the police and negative attributes to protesters; so as to provide justification for actions and/or future actions.

Instances in which official sourcing is used to attach negative attributes to protesters is shown in the following excerpts:

Pike and other police contend that the spray was the “most appropriate” tool on hand to deal with what they described as an unruly mob encircling the officers…

John Bakhit, an attorney who represents the campus police union, said he “completely disagreed” with the study’s conclusion that Pike had no reason to use the pepper spray. He said the panel did not take seriously enough the threat police faced from “this large mob of people” who refused police orders to disperse”…

In the first excerpt, Pike (the man who used pepper spray upon the protesters) and “other police” are used as official sources in framing the protesters in a negative manner. By categorizing the protesters as an “unruly mob,” this could provide a simple justification for the police to use the “most appropriate” tool on hand, being pepper spray. In the second excerpt (of the same article), John Bakhit who represents the interests of the police union is again used as a primary source to help justify Pike’s use of pepper spray by pinning the protesters as a threat and a defiant group; and further implies that the spray was used as a necessary tool to contain this “large mob.”

Instances in which official sourcing is used to attach positive attributes to police is shown in the following excerpts:

Los Angeles police officials said they have no plans to move the protesters out. “We’re still working as best we can and trying to be cooperative,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith. He said police have a contingency plan to clear out protesters if they have to, but said if police are forced to evict protesters they would take pains to avoid the tear gas used by police in Oakland…

Protesters received a relatively warm welcome, with the City Council endorsing their action and council President Eric Garcetti inviting them to stay as long as they liked. But as days rolled into weeks and months, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city leaders began showing signs of impatience with rising costs, petty crime and property damage. Ultimately, Villaraigosa saying he feared for the safety of children at the camp, order the protesters to leave. They refused…

In the first excerpt, the Los Angeles police officials and Cmdr. Andrew Smith are employed to portray the police as cooperative, which provides some justifications for the police to act in the future (evict protesters and use tear gas) if the protesters do anything to perturb such a positive balance. In the second excerpt, the council President and the Mayor again portray themselves as cooperative and attributes negativity towards the protesters in associating them with “petty crime, property damage,” and as a threat to safety; and when they show defiance in terms of refusing to leave, this paves way for future actions by the police to apply force.

In essence, such values of the journalist in using specific sources to justify police action(s) can be explained through Van Leeuwen’s strategy for legitimation, or more specifically, rationalization (Fairclough, 2003). By attaching the texts to the legitimacy of institutionalized practices, readers use the knowledge (endowed to them by society) that police and other officials possess the authority/capacity to eliminate public threats and disturbances, in order to cognitively justify police actions. Additionally, it can be assumed that the journalist is aware of the knowledge that readers of the LA Times share, because they are consumers of not independent, but that of mainstream media.

Pattern 2: The New York Times: Police Actions Lack Context and Justification

After cutting down the NY Times corpus down to sixty texts through a process of random sampling, we put these texts into, a web application for textual analysis.  Here we created excerpts and attached codes to those excerpts to define them.  One of the most common codes that we found while doing this was “police aggression.” There was a pattern of talking about a peaceful protest that was followed by the police taking action in very aggressive ways.  Some examples of this aggression are:

“A larger number of protesters later returned and tried to re-establish the camp. The police responded by launching tear gas canisters and firing projectiles..One protester, a former Marine, suffered a fractured skull, veterans groups said.”

“Moments later, the police began firing canisters of tear gas into the crowd. Many people ran, but a few protesters wearing gas masks stayed”

“Riot police in Oakland dispersed hundreds of protesters with tear gas on Tuesday night as crowds tried to re-enter a plaza outside of City Hall that the authorities had cleared of an encampment earlier in the day.”

“The Oakland police force has acknowledged firing bean-bag rounds – also known as flexible baton rounds – and tear gas, but not rubber bullets.”

If we look at the co-text surrounding the actions (launching tear gas..etc), we find that in the first three excerpts, the aggression made was in response to what the protesters were doing; and in the fourth, it is merely an acknowledgment of the tactics used by the police. Before the first two passages, the journalists talk about how the protesters tried to re-enter an area peacefully, in neither case, did the protesters speak of cases of violence or aggression. This shows that the police are abusing their power and being overtly aggressive in situations that don’t call for it. The way that these violent police events are being recontextualized to the people is that they are unwarranted. In other words, the journalists are providing reasons as to why police actions are unjustified, without actually labeling it specifically in that language.  The fact that there has been little to no backlash on police officers from the federal government is adding to the need to take action and call for reform.

Pattern 3: The Los Angeles TimesProtesters position against police within the text

Protesters within the Movement are not represented and if they are present in the new it would be less frequency than the police officers. Within looking at our codes in corpus to compare “protester” and “police” said shows evident with the amount of times the word had shown up on search. The Los Angeles Times corpus that our group collected indicated that police representation compares to protester representation was 3 times more frequently. Upon researching the data, I found a pattern that shows protesters limited voice in The Los Angeles Times as an individual but as a group compare to the representation of a police/officer identity:

Attorneys for the campus police union also expressed muted optimism Friday. “We believe we accomplished our goal today,” said John Bakhit. “All the sections we asked to be held back were held back. We’re happy — but it’s temporary.”

“Shame on you!” protesters shouted, as the officers ran to pre-assigned spots, instantly dividing the park into small, easily controlled segments. “Get back!” police shouted to those who came too close.

“We are peaceful!” protesters yelled.

The operation began at 12:13 a.m., on orders from Deputy Chief Jose Perez, watching from the steps of Los Angeles police headquarters across the street.

Police Chief Charlie Beck, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger and others were certain that traditional approaches wouldn’t work…..

……”We knew we didn’t want to just push them out,” Beck said. “The last thing we wanted was to be chasing them through the streets.”

Highlighting my claim that protesters are not empowered within The Los Angeles Times discourse the texts, has clear pattern arises where protesters are maybe express in the situation but does not have a saying of what had taken place compare to the police:

“There were only two things we weren’t going to allow,” Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna said. “One was camping overnight … and we weren’t going to allow temporary shelters.”

Protesters say that they’ve been stymied partly because their group lacks the sheer size of Occupy Los Angeles.

…where Police Chief Charlie Beck said officials were working out a timeline to evict Occupy protesters from their camp outside City Hall.
In Oakland, Portland, Ore., and other cities where police have targeted Occupy encampments, protesters have been scattered and forced to ponder how to sustain the momentum that began Sept. 17, when scores of people demanding a crackdown on corporate greed staked their claim to Zuccotti Park and sparked a nationwide movement.

Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said most people began filing out of the park once they received the notices; one person was arrested for disorderly conduct. Browne said the park was not heavily popu-lated early Tuesday.
The protesters said hundreds of police were mobilizing around the park and that the eviction of the de-monstrators was in progress. ….The demonstrators’ website urged people to “get to the park immediately for eviction defense.”….Demonstrators shouted “We love our country” and “You don’t have to do this.”

With each voice spoken from the protester view point, they all identify the police as the cause or the one to be blame for any unfortunate event. With these quotes from The Los Angeles Times shows the disempowered group of protesters through lack of representation of voice and individual identity. Furthermore, with these findings the protesters are not giving the space to explain their side of the story as clearly compare to the police throughout the violence/abuse act during the occupy movement.

Pattern 4: The New York Times: Protesters Are Defined As Actors Within The Text

The Occupy Movement protesters are represented as social actors within The New York Times discourse. The text producers of the national newspaper provide protesters with speaking opportunities and portrayals, giving them agency. Often, these opportunities employ the use of legitimation strategies to achieve this grammatical accomplishment.

The protesters are frequently named preceding the quotation attributed to their speech.  Often, the journalists use protesters’ full names or titles in the discourse, thus giving them agency as social actors. Further, they are classified, or categorized, sometimes as a group and in other instances individually. The act of naming or classifying the actors is crucial to their role as participants in the text (Fairclough, 2003). Additionally, The New York Times journalists also refer to the protesters specifically and generically where they are classified within the text. The individual supplying the quote is often given a specific title, and then refers to the group as a collective as seen in the passage below:

Alex Barnard, a spokesman for Occupy Cal, said protesters planned to put the tents back up.“Tents are the means by which we have chosen to express our First Amendment rights,” said Mr. Barnard, who is working on a Ph.D. in sociology. “We are not going away.”

In this particular example, the protester, Barnard, is referred to as “a spokesman” tied to an organization, Occupy Cal, thus the representation is specific. More generically, he is referred to as a Ph.D. candidate. The occupiers are also referred to in a generic fashion as “protesters” through paraphrasing by the text producer. In other similar excerpts, the journalists employ many of the same methods:

Caitlin Manning, 55, a film professor and member of the movement, said on Sunday afternoon that only a handful of officers were visible at the group’s gathering at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.“It looks like they’re going to let us do our thing here today,” she said.

David Suker, a 43-year-old teacher from the Bronx, said the officer struck him with a two-handed swing. On Thursday he displayed a long red welt on the side of his abdomen that he said was caused by the blow. “It felt like he was trying to hit a home run,” Mr. Suker said of the officer. Mr. Suker said that he knew that being part of a group that had announced an intention to cross the barricades could result in arrest, but said that he did not expect to be struck by a baton. He called the blow an instance of brutality.

In these excerpts, the speech actors are represented generically. Manning is referred to as a “professor” and “member of the movement” and Suker is referred to as a “teacher.” Some level of specificity could be argued here as well in that the journalists provide the reader with the ages of the participants, thus they are both classified as middle-aged. The level of specificity achieved in the Bernard excerpt is not realized here, but the participants are both named. The protesters in the context of both passages are referred to as “group,” another generic representation.

In summation of these findings, it is clear that protesters are included as social actors within the discourse and referred to personally through the process of naming. In addition to the specific and generic associations, those actors classified as such (i.e. Alex Bernard, Caitlin Manning, David Suker, protesters, and group) are activated in the text. That is, the protesters have the ability to act and a capacity to do (Fairclough, 2003). For example:

…protesters planned to put the tents back up.

“…they’re going to let us do our thing here today.”

…he knew that being part of a group that had announced an intention to cross the barricades…

With these social activations, journalists effectively grant the protesters power to define the Occupy Movement in their own words.


In our research analysis, our group made the initial argument that mainstream journalists of The Los Angeles Times engage in processes of legitimization in which the police are justified or portrayed in a positive manner. In The New York Times, police are portrayed in a negative manner and their actions aren’t justified, thereby giving voice and empowerment to the protesters of the movement.

In the first two patterns of this paper, we found similarities and connections between Pattern #1 and the selective use of sources in texts and in Pattern #2, in which the text lacked sources, contexts, and justifications when speaking about the police. Thus, this showed that the mainstream journalists of both sources were placed in a power position in which they were able to dictate which actors in the texts received preferential voice when speaking. In other words, the journalists of The Los Angeles Times endowed police with power through the careful use of sources, which primarily portrayed police officials in a positive manner and legitimized their actions. In the case of The New York Times, journalists gave power to the Occupy protesters by avoiding the justification of police actions through the lack of context provided in the narrative and in the texts.

In the second two patterns, there were parallels between Pattern #3 and Pattern #4. Specifically, Pattern #4 showed the ways that Occupy protesters were defined as actors within The New York Times discourse by relying on the idea of social representation. Journalists provided protesters with ample speaking opportunities and numerous portrayals throughout the discourse. They further empowered the protesters through the process of naming and classification. However, in The Los Angeles Times protesters are disempowered throughout the articles especially when a violence act was caused. Police may have the up hand when telling the story of the situation, but ultimately it comes down the journalist and the way they want the story to be portrayed. Given that the protesters had their two sentences in at various newsletters they were rarely portrayed as an individual but more as a collective group of the occupy movement compare to the police. Overall, the voices were raised in both parties but not as equally as the story are told in the perspective of the journalist.

In summation, it is clear that the The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times differ in terms of their coverage of the Occupy Movement. These major East and West coast publications are located in the midst of the movement’s most active cities, yet the journalists supply very different portrayals of the action therein. The unequal portrayals of police and protesters is central to our argument. It is evident that these portrayals are different depending on the source of media. Journalists at The New York Times contribute to this inequality by over representing the Occupy protesters, while negatively portraying police actions. Conversely, text producers from The Los Angeles Times justify the police actions by engaging in the process of legitimization.


Adolphs, S. (2006). Exploring words and phrases in use: basic techniques, Chapter 4. Introducing Electronic Text Analysis (pp. 51-63). New York, NY: Routledge.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Representations of social events, Chapter 8. Analysing Discourse (pp.145-150). New York, NY: Routledge.

Fairclough, N., Mulderrig, J., & Wodak, R. (2006). Critical Discourse Analysis, Chapter 17.  In Teun A. Van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction (p. 357). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gill, R. (2000). Discourse Analysis, Chapter 10. In Martin W. Bauer & George Gaskell (Eds.), Qualitative Researching With Text, Image, And Sound (pp.173-174). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wodak, R, and Meyer, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: History, agenda, theory and methodology (pp. 1-33). In Methods of critical discourse analysis. London: Sage.

Fight the Power: The New York Post and Portrayal of the Conflict Between Police and Protesters During the Occupy Movement

Group 19: Matt Martin, Lindi Rohrenbach, Paul Sikora, and Rachel Johnston


As a group we decided to look at both the New York Post and the Salon’s coverage of the Occupy Wall Street/99% movement. In particular we were interested in the differing portrayals of the conflict between police and protesters. Our corpus included coverage of events not just in New York, but in San Francisco, Oakland, and Washington D.C. The Occupy Movement has been a topic heavily covered by the media and a phenomenon that has been a lightning rod for controversy. It is a polarizing topic as people tend to side with the 99% movement or against it. It is important to examine because of the social impact that the movement has had as well as the developing relationship between police and protesters. Demonstrations throughout history have always sparked conflict when the police are called to control the demonstrators. In most cases, the media has the ability to garner sympathy one way or the other by how they portray events and who they paint as the victims. I’ve utilized corpus linguistics tools as well as critical discourse analysis theory to analyze my corpus and support my following claim. The New York Post and’s coverage of the occupy movement takes a sensational approach with polarizing portrayals of police and protesters as either the aggressor or the victim.


The first method that we used was to make a corpus. We got together articles from and the New York Post and put them together to make a reference corpus. “ The word ‘corpus’ simply means ‘body’… It may be defined as ‘a body of complete collection of writings or the like; the whole body of literature on any subject… several works of the same nature, collected and bound together’” (Bauer 23). The reason that this is important to look as is because there is such a vast collection of texts out there would be no way to analyze them all. “Corpora in the linguistic sense are collections of language data for the purposes of various types of language research” (Bauer 23). The reason we chose a corpus was to make sure that we were able to analyze what is being said about the participants in the occupy movement those being the police and the protesters. To get our corpus we went onto to to the Occupy section. Once there I looked at all of the incidents of police and protester interaction. Later we went and grabbed all of the articles form the salon to analyze so we could see what was really being said about the protesters and the police activity. By doing this we was representing the movement as a whole, not just picking and choosing articles to look at.

The discourse genre we focused on was online news articles; in particular we focused on the New York Post and We chose the New York Post because of its long tradition of journalism and the fact that it is produced in the city where the movement began. Although it is generally regarded as a conservative news source, we found a great deal of balance among the articles in our corpus. It was important that we explore this bias because the other half of the group examined a very liberal online publication, The Salon. We collected articles from the New York Posts website and the which included the words police, protesters, and occupy. The resulting corpus was a collection of representations of events centering on conflict between protesters and police during the occupy movement.

One key aspect of critical discourse analysis that we have employed is power. The critical discourse analysis theory surrounding power basically focuses on how the group in power uses their power through force or threat of force and those not in power resenting the perceived abuse of that power. According to the Wodak and Meyer article “CDA researchers are interested in the way discourse (re)produces social domination, that is, the power abuse of one group over others, and how dominated groups may discursively resist such abuse. This raises the question of how CDA researchers understand power and what moral standards allow them to differentiate between power use and abuse” (Wodak 9). The concept behind the existence of a power group and their use of that power is a constant issue within any society. Within my corpus, the power group is clearly the police, who are mandated by the local government to maintain peace and order, authorized to use force when necessary. Protest creates a conflict of interest between the protesters and police, a situation where the police are called upon to demonstrate their authority. Therefore power is an important theory I will explore while analyzing my corpus.

I will also utilize the critical discourse analysis tool of analyzing social actors. The Fairclough article discusses this concept and how it can be used. “Social actors are Participants in clauses…Inclusion/exclusion…Pronoun/noun: is the social actor realized as a pronoun or as a noun?…Grammatical role: Is the social actor realized as a Participant in a clause, within a Circumstance, or as a Possessive noun or pronoun…’Activated’/’passivated: Is the social actor the actor in the processes or the affected or beneficiary?…Personal/impersonal: Social actors can be represented impersonally as well as personally…Name/classified: Social actors can be represented by name or in terms of class or category. If the latter, they can be referred to individually or as a group…Specific/generic: Where social actors are classified, they can be represented specifically or generically.” (Fairclough 145)

This tool has proven very useful in analyzing our corpus because the articles are accounts of events which have happened involving police and protesters. Both are social actors in the articles and depending on how they appear within the clause they produce differing representations.

Another point of emphasis in our analysis will be to look at the narrative structure of the articles. In particular, because of the nature of the coverage of the occupy movement; we will focus on the key event present within the articles in my corpus. In our textbook, Van Dijk explains this aspect of the narrative structure. “All characterizations of the stories will specify a key event that disrupts the equilibrium of ordinary…provoking psychological responses and actions…these psychological and actional responses in turn will have outcomes” (Van Dijk 75).  The narrative structure is vital when analyzing this type of news coverage because each article itself is trying to tell a story. By looking at each article as the presentation of a key event and actions attempting to return the situation to equilibrium, I am able to better understand the encoded representation.

Within the corpus then we used corpus linguistics to get a better understanding of what was really going on in our corpus. We used a website titled KWIC. This website was great we could plug in our corpora and it would do all the analyzing for us.  This made our job easier.  KWIC also helped us generate the Type Token Ratio “ratio between grammatical and lexical items in the text, which is also referred to as lexical density” (Adolphs 39).  One we get the Token Type Ratio for our group of text we can compare it to BNC to see if ours is normal, or on the high end.


Violence between Protestors and Police

This pattern is one that is a reoccurring one throughout all of the articles. We see that the police are over using their power in a negative way. The triangle of communication is a good theory to look at when considering this pattern. “The three elements cook calls the ‘triangle of communication’ are necessarily interdependent in that the topic, or ‘ the spoken about’ is linked to the speakers and the prospective audience, or the ‘spoken to’” (Adolphs 82). With that being said we need to make sure that we look at these three key parts of the text when evaluating whether it is the truth or not. The writer is writing to the public to identify with the protesters rather than the police. The reporter is positioning us that the police are bad and the protesters are peaceful and good.

Here is another instance in history of authority oppressing the rights of peaceful protesters. “Absent probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a person is engaging in or will engage in criminal activity, the F.B.I.’s targeting and questioning of political protesters is antithetical to America’s commitment to the First Amendment right to engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest activity. The reported F.B.I. activity interferes with and chills longstanding First Amendment freedoms” (Siegel)

A specific tool that we used to look at this was the KWIC program we used in class. “A concordance program arranges all instances of a particular search item in a way that makes the search appear in the center of the page” (Adolphs 52). We found that in the concordance the word protester was used in the same sense of being oppressed by the police. The law enforcement officials were walking on their rights and there was nothing that they could do about it or to ensure that they get their rights back. This is one of the specific tools that we have in the corpus linguistics that helps us evaluate language as a whole.

This pattern that we see means that the media needs to take a step back and look and see what is truly going on. If the police are over stepping their boundaries the people need to know, because it they know they might be able to do something about it. The media would be doing their job in performing the watchdog effect. But if they are just trying to push their opinions on the people consuming the media the people need to realize this and hold the media to their job. The people consuming the media need to be informed on what it going on.

In coding my group found a number of interesting things. The most prevalent of which is the clear violence between the police and the protestors. In the coding process in it was clear the police were being portrayed in a negative light for example,

“Like the massive crowd control arsenal unleashed on OWS — riot gear, smoke bombs, rubber bullets, pepper spray, horses, metal blockades, helicopters, plastic cuffs, and the police motorcycles, cars and vans that clog the streets — the three-tiered surveillance seemed like overkill for an overwhelmingly peaceful movement, where the occasional slur thrown at police is usually shouted down with reminders not to goad cops because they’re part of the 99 percent.”

This is just one of the many instances where the code ‘protestors as victims’ was used. In there is no argumentation defending the police, there is not even an attempt at justifying the force the police used against the protesters. However the argumentation is in accusing the police. Inversely in coding of the articles of The New York Post. This is an excerpt of discourse from The New York Post where it is clear that the protestors are made out to be in the wrong, even without mentioning the representation of the movement as a whole,

“There were marches, arrests and plenty of YouTube videos of protesters getting pepper-sprayed. In the end, though, it appeared that eliciting these kinds of moments – provoking the police until they overreacted – was the movement’s primary, if not only, goal.”

That is a clear use of argumentation on page 85 of Discourse Studies by Teun A. Van Dijk says, “Argumentation uses language to refute or justify a standpoint.” Then later on page 93 in figures 5.1 and 5.2 Van Dijk shows the process of argumentation. In the excerpt from the grounds are smoke bombs, riot gear etc. the warrant is the movement was not just peaceful, but overwhelmingly peaceful and the claim is that it seemed like overkill. Then in the New York Post it is the opposite the claim being the police were being provoked. As with the New York Post has many of these examples showing the police being the victims of the protestors, provoking them.  These two excerpts show that there is violence between police and protestors, the argumentation in each one if these excerpts clearly show the varying views from one source to another.


Through critical discourse analysis, we have been able to dissect the power dynamics and narrative structure of the social actors present in the New York Post and coverage of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Each article has a clear preferred reading stance which is reinforced by who is portrayed as the aggressor and the victim. Police and protesters are inevitably going to clash because of the nature of demonstration and the duties of police officers. The media is able to garner sympathy for either side by the way that events are represented in discourse. The New York Post focuses on utilizing the narrative structure to create stories which comment on the social construction of power through force, legality, and position of the social actors. The focuses more on what the participants have to say and there role in the social movement. Although the demonstrator’s only power is to occupy space, when they are not committing any crimes and the police excessively demonstrate their power, the protesters are seen as being morally in the right. As a whole, our corpus can be an important statement on how the actions of individuals can positively, but more commonly in the news negatively impact the image and reputation of the group they are a part of. The negative press whether it be toward protesters or police generally highlight radical or sensational actions by a few individuals and may not reflect the actions or beliefs of the group as a whole.


Adolphs, Svenja. “Exploring Frequencies in Texts: Basic Techniques.” Chapter 3 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. 37-50.

Adolphs, Svenja. “Exploring Words and Phrases in Use: Basic Techniques.” Chapter 4 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. 51-63.

Adolphs, Svenja. “Electronic Text Analysis, Language and Ideology.” Chapter 6 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. 80-96.

Bauer, Martin, & Bas Aarts. “Corpus Construction: A Principle for Qualitative Data Collection.” Chapter 2 in Qualitative Researching with Text, Image, and Sound. Eds. Martin Bauer & George Gaskell. London : SAGE, 2000. 19-37.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Meaning relations between sentences and clauses (pp. 87-104). In Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.

Hall, S. (1997).” The spectacle of the ‘other’”. In M. Wetherell, S. Taylor & S. Yates (Eds.), Discourse Theory and Practice (pp. 324-344). London: Sage.

Kelle, Udo. “Computer-Assisted Analysis: Coding and Indexing.” Chapter 16 in Qualitative Researching with Text, Image, and Sound. Eds. Martin Bauer & George Gaskell. London: SAGE, 2000. 282-298.

Lindlof, T. (2001). The challenge of writing the qualitative study. Ed by Alexander, A. & Potter, J. How to publish your communication research: An insiders guide (pp. 77-95). London: Sage.  *see below*

O’Halloran, K. (2012). Electronic deconstruction: Revealing tensions in the cohesive structure of persuasion texts. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 17(1), 91-124.

Van Dijk, T. (2011). Discourse studies: A multidisciplinary introduction. (2nd Ed.) London, UK: Sage.

Wodak, R, and Meyer, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: History, agenda, theory and methodology (pp. 1-33). In Methods of critical discourse analysis. London: Sage.

Image Compliments of

Say What You Mean: Defining The Occupy Movement
Group 13: Khani Le, Jordan Nugent, Hanna Fjortoft, Melissa Albrecht, and Lindsay Hudson

   Our group has focused heavily on the language used by the 1% in comparison to that which is used by the 99%. We sought to explore the different languages that are used in regards to the Occupy Movement on blogs from September 2011 to January 2012. We chose this area because we believed that the informal arena of blogs represents the mainstream view of the issue and is a strong proponent in the continuation of the Occupy Movement efforts. The words and patterns that the two binary social classes—those who present themselves as the 1% and the 99%—use is crucial in our understanding of the complexity of the Occupy Movement. Our goal with this research was to explore how these social groups consider themselves and those around them through blogs about the Occupy Movement.

It is our goal to illustrate that the language used by those in the Occupy Movement is heavily focused on positioning themselves within the social structure of the United States by Othering and that the use of collocation and concordance lines illuminate the impact that language surrounding the Occupy Movement has.

   As far as the corpus linguistics methods went, this was where we used concordance lines, collocation tables, and word frequencies to further carry out our data and understanding of the terms we have chosen to word with. For the concordance lines, we used a program that arranges all instances of a particular search item in a way that makes the search item appear in the center of the page. Using a word or a phrase can generate KWIC, key word in context. We did this with our whole corpora and then individually selected the term we each wanted to focus on. As for the collocation tables, these were the co-occurrence of words with no more than four intervening words. On the paradigmatic dimension it is defined rather differently, because items can only collocate with each other when present in the text and two items in a particular paradigm are by that arrangement classed as mutually exclusive (McCreless).

   A quick glance at collocation lines for the corpus shows that of the top 10 words collocated most closely with “protesters,” “peaceful” is the seventh most popular descriptor. The other words in the top 10 list are all unbiased descriptors: words like “the” and “occupy.”

Word Count L5 L4 L3 L2 L1 Node

the 79 8 6 9 2 30 protesters

street 12 0 1 0 1 7 protesters

some 9 0 0 1 0 5 protesters

and 22 3 2 2 2 3 protesters

of 26 0 6 3 7 3 protesters

peaceful 4 0 0 0 0 3 protesters

occupy 8 0 0 5 0 2 protesters

other 4 1 0 1 0 2 protesters

park 11 1 3 0 2 2 protesters

    This indicates that the majority of what is being said about the protestors in this corpus is slanted toward the positive, “peaceful” being a description aimed at increasing favor towards the protestors and the movement. After a careful examination of the instances where “peaceful” was being used, it became increasingly obvious that those blogs that described protestors as being peaceful were blogs that were pro-Occupy.

Just as pro-Occupy blogs identified themselves through their sympathetic descriptions of the protesters, so too did the anti-Occupy blogs with critical, demeaning descriptions. The most common discourse methods used to produce meaning for “protester” in anti-Occupy blogs were othering (i.e., “liberal progressive socialist Marxists”, and “their anti-American progressive socialist behaviour…,” etc.), us-versus-them pronoun usage (through the use of “them” and “their” coupled with negative descriptions), and, most strikingly, the seeming refusal to actually use the word “protester.” In these anti-Occupy blogs, lexical choices favored “occupiers,” “hippies,” and even “idiots” over the more neutral “protester,” suggesting that the authors wished to prescribe a more negative view of the Occupy movement (Chandler, 2007). Additional negative descriptors were often layered on top of these “protester”-substitutions, as the collocation tables below show:

Word Count L5 L4 L3 L2 L1 Node

blaming 1 0 1 0 0 0 occupiers

chumming 1 0 1 0 0 0 occupiers

failing 1 0 0 1 0 0 occupiers

loathsome 1 0 0 0 0 1 occupiers

Word Count L5 L4 L3 L2 L1 Node

occupy 3 0 0 2 0 0 idiots

Word Count L5 L4 L3 L2 L1 Node

dirty 1 0 0 1 0 0 hippies

libertarians 1 0 0 0 0 0 hippies

#occupywallstreet 1 0 1 0 0 0 hippies

ragtag 1 0 0 0 0 1 hippies

smelly 1 0 0 0 1 0 hippies

   All blogs utilizing such descriptors identified themselves as being anti-Occupy.

   Another way this pattern is perpetuated is by the use of in-grouping the protesters and out-grouping their opponents. This is done by othering, using quotations to discredit unfavorable protester descriptions, and us-versus-them pronoun usage. Othering is also apparent in pro-Occupy blogs, targeting the police and members of the 1%. Descriptions like “smart-mouthed” and “infamous” are aimed at these out-group members alongside the positive and sympathetic descriptions of the protesters. Combined, these paradigmatic choices lend specific political alliances to the blog posts.

Concordance lines can be particularly useful and, “the advantage of using this technique in such contexts lies in the unmediated nature of corpus data, which allows the analyst to tap into the way which certain words are used in real-life contexts” (Adolphs, 2006). By entering these excerpts, many words including, ‘I, our, their, they, and we’ were exceptionally high with ‘they’ as the highest with 25 times. This shows that by repeatedly using these words it can form this artificial boundary between these opposing groups. Using these particular pronouns creates an in-group/out-group effect and produces a stressed illusion of reality. 

Analyzing the different blogs and how often the author used particular language that formed the artificial boundary of the 1% and 99%, between good and evil. Many words, such as ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘they’, and ‘them’ are widely used in these blogs to create the sense of unity, defining the ‘other’ to define themselves and what they stand for. Van Dijk explains this concept by noting that, “the way in-groups and out-groups are represented in text and talk, prototypically represented by the ideological pronouns Us and Them” (Van Dijk 2006). By locating these types of words it accentuates the tactic of othering to create a boundary between these two groups. Analyzing the 1% vs. 99% comparisons excerpts, and highlighting words throughout the corpus demonstrate this method.

Othering was also prevalent in the texts we analyzed. In the Real Truth, we identified an othering statement: “The corporate media people are so comfortable, and so ensconced in their position, they do not believe there is any significant dissent; the situation is ingrained, routine and habitual.” This form of in-grouping/out-grouping puts the problems in America on “corporate media people” shoulders and effectively denounces any responsibility from the rest of the population, and even goes as far as to suggest that those who are responsible for the movement are ignorant to real situations. In the blog The Generation, it states, “Rather than a voice representative of the American people, the US is instead offered with…millionaires and billionaires that don’t represent the rest of the country.” It’s an interesting cultural note here that “millionaires and billionaires” are conceived so differently from the rest of us that they are not able to speak as anything other than their net worth. This is an example of othering that vilifies humans based on a truly frivolous aspect of their life, and reflects upon American society the idea that everyone else is absolutely different from you, and therefore to blame for the problems of life. One of our key findings was that people, regardless of where they stand regarding the Occupy Movement, think of the “other” people as the problem, and that if only they changed, everything would work out.

Our research—along with the patterns that we’ve identified—aids in the understanding of how people react in the situations that the Occupy Movement places American citizens in. The different excerpts help illuminate the way that different people in the movement use language in order to further their individual intentions—which was what our research sought to prove.


Canales, M. K. (2000). Othering: Toward an Understanding of Difference. New York: Aspen Publishers, Inc.

Dijk, T. A. (2006). Discourse and Ideology. In T. A. Dijk, Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction (p. 396). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Ltd.

M. Hauser, F. C.-X. (2007). A Dissociation Between Moral Judgments and Justifications. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Russell S. Tomlin, L. F. (2006). Discourse Semantics. In T. A. Dijk, Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction (p. 42). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Ltd.

Fairclough, Norman, Jane Mulderrig, and Ruth Wodak (2006). “Critical Discourse Analysis” Chapter 17, pg. 358. Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction.

Fina, Anna De (2006). “Discourse and Identity” Chapter 13, pgs. 269-270. Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction.

Kramarae, Cheris and Michelle M. Lazar (2006). “Gender and Power in Discourse” Chapter 11, pg. 233. Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction.

McCreless, Patrick. “Syntagmatics & Paradigmatics: Some Implications for the Analysis Chromaticism.” JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012.<>.

Adolphs, Svenja. “Exploring Words and Phrases in Use: Basic Techniques.” Chapter 4 in Introducing Electronic Text Analysis. London ; New York : Routledge, 2006. 51-63.

Chandler, D. (2007). Semiotics, the basics. (2 ed.). Psychology Press.

Sinclair, John. “The Lexical Item.” In Contrastive Lexical Semantics. Ed. Edda Weigand. Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : J. Benjamins, 1998. 1-24.

Rose, G. (2007). Chapter 5: Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful. Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials (pp.74-106). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Race Inequality & the 99%: Representing Race in Caucasian and Asian Seattle Newspapers

Group 15: Amanda Kirk, Hyun Jin (Chloe) Kim, Stephanie Dusin, Wei Jiang, & Jenny Nguyen

Our group focused on race in the 99% movement for our project. When dealing with the Occupy movement, there are many different issues that we could have focused on but we wanted to zone in on something that affects our immediate setting. Seattle has a very large mix of ethnicities and is known for its cultural diversity. We thought that it would be interesting to look at how different races were represented in the Occupy movement in Seattle because of this reason. The importance of analyzing the multi-racial factor of the Seattle Occupy Movement lies within the racial categories so ever present in American society today. There is a very large Asian population in Seattle so we thought it would be important to narrow in on this dynamic between how Asians and Caucasians represent the Occupy movement in newspapers. Looking at how different races cover local news is important to understanding not only a city’s dynamic but how different cultures deal with current events. Asians are a minority in Seattle and many come to the city internationally. It is interesting to see how up to date Asian cultures are with more American politics and how involved they might be in these issues. Through newspapers we saw which publications decided to include or exclude the certain races while also observing other aspects of the discourse genre such as the language used. While gathering articles, creating our corpus, and coding the terms we decided on, we discovered that there are some patterns in the way the two races deal with the Seattle events. From this we were able to draw some conclusions about the discourse in our topical focus. We used different discourse analysis methods within our discourse genre to come to these conclusions in our corpus. American newspapers and Asian newspapers focus on different topics and use different terms to describe the incidents that deal with the 99% movement in Seattle. Through our analysis, we found patterns that proved Asians and race were not represented in Caucasian based newspapers. It is necessary to claim that racial inequality still exists not only in the Occupy Seattle Movement, but in Seattle newspapers through the minimal coverage of racial ideologies throughout Caucasian newspapers. We found that American based newspapers focused on the economy much more than the racial implications of the movement. Another trend we found was that Americans were not defined by the term protestors. There was also in and out grouping done by both the Caucasian and Asian newspapers. We also found that in Asian based newspapers, articles are targeted exclusively at Asian populations and excludes themselves from the “American” Occupy movement by out grouping Caucasians. Some Asian newspapers did try to stay in the in group by promoting democracy in reference to the Occupy movement. These findings are all supported by discourse analysis methods.

Our group was able to come to some of these conclusions through discourse analysis.  These methods are content analysis, concordance, collocation, word frequency cohesion and coherence. We use them in discourse analysis and text linguistics to describe the properties of written texts. (Connor, 1996). Discourse analysis was a way to understand that “knowledge is socially constructed- that is, that our current ways of understanding the world are determined not by the nature of the world itself, but by social processes” (Gill, 2000). Discourse analysis helps us examine our materials in a more rigorous and effective way so that we can reveal the answers that we are looking for. “Discourse Analysis is more than a simple method of discovery. It rests on a powerful theory detailing and explaining how the social world is understood” (Phillips, 1).  The main topic of interest is the underlying social structures, which may be assumed or played out within the conversation or text (Taylor, 2001). A Critical Discourse Analysis or ‘Semiosis’ method of analysis allows meaning to be made out of the pattern of excerpts found in the corpus. “An important part of a CDA is to demonstrate the existence of consistent patterns in a text or set of related texts. Analysis, in other words, has to be systematic and not just a matter of picking out isolated examples for comment” (Cameron, 129). In this project we used a variety of different techniques that helped our research. We first looked at “the study of the functions of social, cultural, situative and cognitive contexts of language use” (Wodak, 2001). We used a lot of inductive theory to guide our research. The inductive theory is described as “the process of testing hypotheses [which] can only occur after one has gathered evidence from which the predictions are deduced… the subconscious must contain material based on reality for it to be potentially useful” (Locke, 2007). So by using the inductive theory, we tried to notice if there were any patterns in the corpus so that we could build typologies to make sense of the patterns. Another method we used was corpus linguistics. “Corpus linguistics will systematically analyze a large body of naturalistic texts or spoken discourse (called a corpus) along various dimensions of language and discourse” (Van Dijk, 131). Corpus Linguistics allows a quantitative exploration of texts and text collection in relation to the Seattle Occupy Movement through a grammatical analysis. “Corpus-based analyses of individual lexical items and phrases that have been identified as relevant references in the study of particular aspects of ideology can be used in providing evidence from different domains of discourse and from different discourse communities” (Adolphs, 93). The KWIC Concordance is a corpus analytical tool for making word frequency lists, concordances and collocation tables. Since collocation tables highlight more or less common collocates, we were able to use this method to find out which terms were used more often. By using concordance lines, which “arranges all instances of a particular search item in a way that makes the search item appear in the centre of the page” (Adolphs, 2006, p. 53), it was helpful to focus only on instances of a specific lexical item and locate patterns of use with my corpus for our analysis. One particular analytical tool that we used was Keyness. It is used to analyze the high frequency of certain words in comparison to another corpus. “Its purpose is to point towards the ‘aboutness’ of a text or homogeneous corpus that is, its topic and the central elements of its content” (Baker, 2012). Also, by using the Dedoose tool, codes for communicating meaning were found and made sense of. Through these codes an ability to find relationships between the language to describe power and race were possible. There is also qualitative coding, which draws on patterned occurrence of key themes throughout the corpus. Additionally, it “tends to emphasizes aspects of the study that can be replicated, such as its instruments, measurements, sample and the order in which treatments are applied or survey items presented” (Alexander, 2001). We used these tools and methods to come to theoretical explanations about our research topic. Discourse analysis helped our group find approaches to examining our research material.

The discourse genre that we employed was essential to our goals. Our group dealt primarily with newspapers that captured the effects of the 99% movement. In contrast to other groups, each person in our group chose a different news source relating to their specific race they were researching.  Newspapers offered a chance for our group to investigate the two different cultures in relation to newspaper publications that covered the issue and compare and contrast the ways in which each race deals with publication of the 99% movement. This genre is available to both of the races that were involved in the movement so we looked at both cultural newspapers to see if both races were treated equally in the events that occurred. Through newspapers we can see which publications decided to include or exclude certain cultures while also observing other aspects of the discourse genre such as the language used or photographs. The Caucasian based newspapers we used were The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, The News Tribune, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Asian based newspapers we employed were The International Examiner, and The Northwest Asian Weekly. The specific date ranges that we looked at are from September 2011 until present.

After figuring out what our discourse genre was going to be, we needed to gather our corpus. “Investigating the use and distribution of synonyms in a corpus allows us to determine their contextual preferences, associated with other collocates or associated with register differences” (Douglas, 1998). This project required a more specialized corpus, so a strategy for collecting data was very necessary. We collected data according to our individual discourse genre newspaper. The population for our corpuses was much too large so we had to zone in on a more concentrated sample. We needed the theoretical relevance to be more specific. We first narrowed down our search to fit into the timelines of September 2011 to the present. We also did this by searching for articles that were related to race by searching for key words such as race, culture, American, white, Caucasian, and Asian. We were able to find a more concentrated number of articles dealing with our individual corpus. The sample frame had to be narrowed down in order to reach the results that our group was looking for. The articles that we found all helped find some answers to issues dealing with race and helped us come to some conclusions about it.

From the Caucasian based newspapers, race was not dealt with in regards to the Occupy movement. There were several different patterns in the corpus that backed this up. The first was that Asians were not discussed much in the sample frame. Another pattern found was that not only were Asians not brought up, race was not a large concern when talking about the Occupy Movement. Another pattern backing this up was the fact that Caucasian based newspapers kept using the word “economy” instead of more cultural terms. Caucasian based newspapers also didn’t label Americans as protestors. Both American and Asian newspapers use labeling terms for the in and out group.  Asian newspapers also found a trend in promoting democracy in terms of the Occupy movement.

The fact that Asians were not a more common topic is a very interesting finding. The largest non-White racial group in Seattle is Asian (14% of the city’s population), followed by Black or African American (8%) (Seattle Population & Demographics, 2010). When dealing with a major current event, it is striking that such a large percentage of Seattle’s population wasn’t discussed. Using hermeneutics, a qualitative analysis term that relies on the process of interpretation, we can come to this conclusion. This method is much more of a meso-analysis because it focuses on the trends within an institution. This all comes from the moment of encoding. This is the production of communication in general that is influenced by institutional practices, organizational conditions, practices of productions, and the producer’s bias. The issue of race within the Occupy movement is not something that American newspapers thinks is noteworthy in their articles, and this comes from their history of production. Asians were not incorporated into this issue because of the Caucasian’s cultural background in expressing current events. Caucasian newspapers are showing their narrative identity when writing these stories about the Occupy movement because of the way they position and construct the narrative away from the issue of race.  This could deal with the issue of power as a force or a constructive element to society. The fact that they decided to exclude race shows their lack of concern for the out group of Asians. This shows structuralized and institutionalized power relationships between ethnicities. This shows that by analyzing discourse, we can demonstration the particular micro-physics of power.  As discourse analysts, we need to take this argumentation into consideration when reading these articles so that we become more aware of different cultural sides to the issue. This perspectivization comes from Caucasian’s perspectives and its bias is shown quite passively because it would only take a discourse analyst to come to these conclusions.

Not only were Asians excluded from mention in the Occupy movement articles in Caucasian based newspapers, race as a general topic wasn’t discussed. In our corpus, using a type token ratio helped us come to this conclusion. The type token ratio helps find a word’s lexical density by looking at the ratio of words to word occurrences in a text (Sinclair, 1998). Using a type token ratio in order to analyze sources is more of a micro analysis because it is looking at more specific linguistic features of a text. The type-token ratio is “a more common ratio, that is often calculated in order to gain some basic understanding of the lexical variation within the text” (Adlophs, 2006). By looking at the words race and American, we were able to get a good sense of its importance and relevance to the stories. These words best summarize our goals because we are looking for all instances that newspapers take a stance on ethnicity. We want to see if culture is incorporated into their stories and how they attempt conquering that theme. The type token ratio for the word race in The Seattle Times is 1/7,355. In The Seattle Weekly, the word race only showed up once as well, making its ratio 1/13,172. In The Seattle Post Intelligencer, the word American’s type token ratio was 6/21,916. In those six instances, not a single time was it used as a racial term. Words that were frequently attached to the term Americans were foreclosure, million, percent, top, billion, cost, housing, and homes. Another example from the collocation tables shows that the term Americans was never tied to inequality or racial patterns. Furthermore, the term Americans was not used to describe anyone from another race and ethnic background other than Caucasian. The lexical choices made in these articles were clearly not centered on ethnicity because the word race was only used once in all of the articles that I looked at. It says a lot that the word wasn’t used because race is an important issue when it comes to the Occupy movement and it should be talked more about. The words before the word race in The Seattle Times were “whose parents were born in Taiwan, said issues of” and the words after were “have come up during the group’s twice-daily gener” (Haines, 2012). The collocation was interesting to note. Some of the words surrounding race were capitalism, inclusive, issues, and job. These words are interesting when comparing them to race in the broader issue of the Occupy movement.  A key lesson of this pattern throughout Seattle Newspapers is that just because racial inequality is not talked about or present right in front of us in written language does not mean that it is not an issue in society. The Occupy Movement is just as much of an issue of economic inequality as it is of social and racial inequality. By the patterns shown throughout the corpus it is clear to see that the journalistic style that embodies Caucasian centered ideologies in Seattle Newspapers is more focused on the economic inequality tied to the movement than racial. Looking at the lexical density of the word race and American led us to the conclusion that ethnicity was not a priority for Caucasian newspapers to cover with the topic of the Occupy movement.

Another pattern for Caucasian based newspapers was that the main focus centered around the term “economy.”  There were more than fifteen examples in The Seattle Weekly where the articles mainly talk about economic issues such as budget cuts and tax breaks. Since the economy has been an ongoing issue with the people in America, looking for sentences that were related to the economy helped contribute to our group’s goals since we wanted to look for all instances where newspapers talk about American and Asian perspectives in connection to the Occupy Movement. In the article, Teachers, Taking a Page from Occupy Protests, Get Militant by Nina Shapiro, she says,

“600 teachers [showed up], making for the largest local demonstration by their profession in years. After years of budgets cuts to education, and even more on the table now, teachers are getting militant.”

These sentences talk about the main reason why those teachers are protesting and what they want to get from it. The budget cuts to education seem to be a big issue for them, and they said they are doing this “to make the invisible work we do visible.” If the teachers are getting paid less and getting their budgets cut, the parents of students also have to worry about a less well-rounded education. There is another example to support this pattern. In the article, Occupy the Capitol Demonstrators Urge State to Repeal Tax Exemptions of the 1 Percenters by Rick Anderson, it also talks about economic issues by saying,

“it doesn’t make sense to hand out tax breaks to big banks and special interests at the same time as we’re raising tuition, ignoring toxic pollution, shortchanging our kids and putting people with disabilities and mental illness out on the streets.”

Here the focus on the economy can be clearly seen. People are protesting against unreasonable tax breaks to big banks and special interests when there seems to be a raise in tuition and other problems within the 99 percent group. Thus, those protestors are protesting for their right to be treated equally with financial and economic issues. Since tax breaks seems to be an ongoing issue in the Occupy Movement amongst American people, we looked for the term “tax” to see if there was any sub-pattern within the economy topic. The term “tax” was included quite a number of times with the Movement topic, showing up 33 times in 29 articles in The Seattle Weekly. By looking at the presentation of the collocation tables, we noticed that when talking about tax, it continually showed up with certain words such as breaks, exemptions, income, sales, corporations, rich, business, etc. Moreover, by analyzing via KWIC and looking at the concordance lines, it became more obvious that the term tax dealt mostly with tax breaks and tax exemption issues. These terms of economy and tax help us see where the focuses of the articles are, and that is certainly not on race.

A large pattern we found in American based newspapers was that Americans were not portrayed as a protestor. In an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, it is said,

“They are another race of being: They are loyalists who really, really believe in what they are doing.”

This suggests that a protestor is neither American nor from another ethnic background. It also labels them as something besides a protestor, which is an interesting stance to take because it has an American bias. Another example from the Seattle Post Intelligencer is,

“Demonstrators upset with the current economic climate hold signs and yell slogans expressing their feelings towards the banks and corporations in America.”

This again deemphasizes the protestor perspective while also being vague in ethnic background. This syntagmatic analysis shows that there is a prejudice in the authorship of these articles. Through this Critical Discourse Analysis it is fair to say that these texts strike a pattern that it is un-American to take part in the occupy movement. If it is un-American to take part in the Occupy Movement, then those who are not taking part (those occupying the 1% of the United States) are the ones that are American. This is also validated through a Corpus Linguistics approach of discourse that shows that the term protestors are regularly grouped with violence and the out group. This suggests even further that the Occupy Movement does not truly involve Americans, but rather an unknown group. This pattern shows us that Americans are not portrayed as the protestor.

Another pattern that we found was that The Seattle Weekly, The Northwest Asian Weekly, and The International Examiner articles clearly distinguish who are in-groups and out-groups by labeling them with particular terms. An example is in the article, Teachers, Taking a Page from Occupy Protests, Get Militant by Nina Shapiro in The Seattle Weekly. It talks about the protest in Olympia and the article calls the teachers “the self-declared 99 percenters.” Shapiro clearly refers to those teachers as the 99% group, describing them as the major protestors in the movement. Here, those teachers are also being described as the in-group who is protesting against those years of budget cuts to education. The article, 9/11 Truthers: Please Stop Running Occupy Seattle by Curtis Cartier in The Seattle Weekly, also mentions “the 99 percent” here. It says,

“If protestors are going to call themselves “the 99 percent,” they need a message that resonates with 99 percent (or at least most) of the American people. The middle class and the poor are getting shafted by corporations and the government that those corporations control is such a message–9/11 conspiracies are not.”

This article describes the 99 percent of the American people as the middle class and the poor, and corporations and the government as the one percent. In Asian based newspapers the same occurrences happen. By using paradigmatic choice to find lexical and semantic terms, we found trends in word and image choice that coined American protestors as “different” and “other”. This is a form of out grouping. An example from The Northwest Asian Weekly is an article titled, Criticizing Its Profits at the Expense of Families. It says,

I hope that Chase [Bank] really thinks about the impact they are having on poor families with young kids, as well as on seniors.”

This shows that the Asian based newspapers are labeling all the American institutions involved in the movement as the “other”. The use of labeling as in and out groups is another pattern found in the Caucasian based newspapers.

We found another pattern in that Asian newspapers are promoting democracy in terms of the Occupy movement. We found that the newspapers clearly distinguish that Asians who are not Americans want to promote the discourse of democracy. They want their voice, freedom, right, and independence just the same as others. One example comes from The International Examiner in an article titled Reflecting Back on 2011. It said,

“The Occupy Wall Street protests showed corporate powers that people won’t stand for corruption and inequality. Every individual wants their existence validated – to be shown they matter; that they have a voice and will be heard.”

This shows that Asians are standing up for their rights in this democratic country. Another example comes from an article titled New Pulse,

“We want to contribute the voices of moms of color and present to the public the people who are carrying the brunt of a failed economy, which is our children.”

This example again shows how Asian newspapers are including themselves in the in group of the Occupy movement and are promoting democratic ideologies in relation to it. In this pattern it is important to note that Asian newspapers are including themselves in the democratic happenings of the Occupy movement.

Our group has found that Caucasian newspapers exclude Asians and race in general from their newspaper articles. The main focuses of American and Asian newspapers are different. This is because of power relationships of production and proven by our corpus. Through corpus linguistics analysis and critical discourse analysis one can see that by leaving out any mention of racial categories other than the perspective of the journalistic tone, there are no other racial categories present in the Seattle Occupy Movement other than Caucasian and that they have little power in the American society. These reflected a sort of in grouping of Caucasians by the lack of reference to the Asian culture and an out grouping of other races. Asian based newspapers show that they are somewhat involved, though. They raise the awareness of democracy promotion in relation to the Occupy movement, which shows awareness of the events. Race was also excluded from any article involving the Occupy movement. Caucasian based newspapers also referenced the economy much more than any racial implications of the movement. Lexical studies also showed us the importance of the word protestors in context and that Americans were excluded from this definition. It is important for us to study and analyze texts in this way so that we can find patterns to current events. In this case, it is necessary in order to figure out cultural differences and systems. It is fair to claim that racial inequality still exists not only in the Occupy Seattle Movement, but also in Seattle Newspapers through the minimal coverage of race. Caucasian-based newspapers need to become more aware of their perspectives and the way in which they present different cultures in their stories. The Occupy movement is a very important current event that affects all ethnicities in Seattle, especially Asians because they make up such a large percentage of the population. An understanding of the mix of culture is important for any discourse genre to keep in mind, and this project helps highlight this.


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