Occupiers and Dreamers: Insiders and Outsiders in a New Political Generation

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
12:30 - 2:00pm
4357 Public Affairs

Presented by: Ruth Milkman, City University of New York Graduate Center, Sociology

with Discussant: Veronica Terriquez, UC Santa Cruz, Sociology



About the Talk:

Young adults have long been overrepresented among political activists, and their generationally specific experiences and worldviews often shape social movement agendas.  Although these phenomena have received limited scholarly attention in recent years, they are highly salient features of the new cycle of protest that has emerged in the 21st century United States. This talk analyzes two key components of that cycle, the 2011 Occupy Wall Street uprising and the movement of undocumented immigrant “Dreamers.”  Both were led by U.S. “Millennials” (born between 1980 and 2000).    I argue that Millennials comprise a new political generation, with a worldview that sets it apart from previous generations of U.S. activists.  I compare the Occupiers’ and Dreamers’ political strategies and organizational forms and argue that, despite a shared worldview, this new political generation is heterogeneous in regard to modes of mobilization. The Occupiers were a relatively privileged group of young people whose aspirations were frustrated, especially in the context of the Great Recession, threatening them with exclusion from the economic stratum they had long expected to enter; by contrast the Dreamers were already marginalized because of their undocumented status and sought inclusion within the economic mainstream.  Their different social locations, in turn, contributed to Occupiers' and Dreamers' distinctly different political strategies and organizational forms.  



About the Speaker:


Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Her early research focused on the impact of economic crisis and war on women workers in the 1930s and 1940s. She then went on to study the restructuring of the U.S. automobile industry and its impact on workers and their union in the 1980s and 1990s; in that period she also conducted research on the labor practices of Japanese-owned factories in California. More recently she has written extensively about low-wage immigrant workers in the U.S., analyzing their employment conditions as well as the dynamics of immigrant labor organizing. She helped lead a multi-city team that produced a widely publicized 2009 study documenting the prevalence of wage theft and violations of other workplace laws in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. She also co-authored a study of California’s paid family leave program, focusing on its impact on employers and workers. After 21 years as a sociology professor at UCLA, where she directed the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment from 2001 to 2008, she returned to New York City in 2010. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, where she teaches Labor Studies and also serves as Research Director. 


Dr. Veronica Terriquez is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University California Santa Cruz.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA, her Masters degree in Education at UC Berkeley, and her B.A. in Sociology at Harvard University.  Her research focuses on youth transitions to adulthood, civic engagement, social inequality, and immigrant integration. She is the principal investigator of the California Young Adult Study and the Youth Leadership and Health Study. Much of her research has implications for policies affecting low-income communities of color.





This event is presented by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor & Employment and cosponsored by the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies, the UCLA Asia Institute, and the UCLA Department of Sociology