“Occupying” our Social Imaginary
September 17th, 2011 marked the beginning of the popular Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in New York. In the days and weeks that followed, protests in cities in the US and in Canada took form. The primary importance of the OWS movements is the discourses that they have encouraged. The social imaginary is the creative core (Thompson 1982) that creates and shapes our world as it is and as it could be (Castoriadis 1987). Since the 1980s, we have lived in a world that largely eliminated “reality-transcending elements” and have fallen into the “static state of affairs” that Mannheim (1960) feared. This static state, an ironically “liquid modernity” (Bauman 2000), was legitimated by a social imaginary. This imaginary was of a society that was not a society (Thatcher 1987) and that was characterized by a system of people and goods constantly in movement and flux (Marcuse 1964). Problematic on many levels, this non-society was also closed to alternative social discourses. In September 2008, we reached market fundamentalism’s climacteric; an interstitial stage where the contradictions of the system became apparent. However, there were no popular reality-transcending dialogues, no new social imaginaries to drive change. The OWS movements are not only occupying fixed public locations, they are also occupying our social imaginary; they are pointing to the legitimation crisis of our social imaginary. The purpose of this research will be to examine the necessity of occupying our broken social imaginary and developing alternative social discourses.