What Do the Occupy Wall Streeters Care About? Haidt on the Moral Foundations of Ows

Michael Giberson

At Reason.com, social psychologist Jonathon Haidt writes about the foundational moral concerns that animate the Zuccotti Park protestors.  Working from a Moral Foundations Theory* perspective, which Haidt and several others have developed, he said, “In my visit to Zuccotti Park, it was clear that the main moral foundation of OWS is fairness, followed by care and liberty. Loyalty, authority, and sanctity, by contrast, are very little in evidence.”

The Occupy Wall Street protests and its progeny are famously leaderless and consensus based, meaning the exact meaning of the movement remains a bit hazy. Politicians left, right and libertarian have stepped into the resulting void to explain what it all means (usually the explanation is that the politician has been right in his views all along, and the explanation seems to serve left, right and libertarian politicians whether the politician is speaking in support of or in opposition OWS).

Haidt attempts a somewhat less self-interested attempt at understanding the basic moral feelings that are motivating participants in the protests. I remark on it here mostly as a complement to Lynne’s thoughts collected here: “A political economy model for Occupy Wall Street.”

*Haidt explains Moral Foundation Theory as, “outlin[ing] six clusters of moral concerns—care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation—upon which … all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals.” More information is at www.MoralFoundations.org.


One thought on “What Do the Occupy Wall Streeters Care About? Haidt on the Moral Foundations of Ows

  1. He is over thinking. It just the usual suspects trying to get on TV. Ignore them and wait for bad weather.

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