December 19, 2020 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 13, 2018 Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team
June 8, 2018 Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team
February 11, 2017 mayaramchandani
October 3, 2016 mayaramchandani

Occupation is a tactic used by protesters or social movements whereby groups literally occupy a public space or building in protest of a situation and/or in a campaign for political or social change.

Problems and Purpose

Occupation is a form of direct action where protesters take over and occupy a public building or space. Occupation is usually pursued in protest against a particular policy, societal or political inequalities and injustices, or simply against an objectionable status quo. 

The Occupy Wall Street Movement, for example, began with an occupation of Zucotti Park in Manhattan's financial district[1], in a general protest against global capitalism and its concomitant inequality. A more specific example is the 2018 occupation by University of Sheffield students of one of the university's main buildings, in support of university faculty on strike against proposed pension cuts.[2]

With the problem occupation seeks to address or highlight, the precise aim of an occupation will vary. Some occupations may serve to draw attention to a particular problem and highlight its importance. Other occupations, such as the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo protested specifically against the then political regime in Egypt,[3] and as part of a broader movement resulted in the demise of President Hosni Mubarak.

Origins and Development

Although occupation has been used as a form of collective action for many years, the past decade has seen renewed action and interest through the Occupy Movement which began on Wall Street and subsquently spread to many cities throughout the world.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also

Occupy Vancouver 

Occupy Seattle

Occupy Flagstaff House 


[1] Schiavenza, M. (2011, Dec 12). The Meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

[2] Penna, D. (2017). Breaking: The Occupation of the Arts Tower Has Come to an End. The Tab. Retrieved from

[3] Al Jazeera (2016). Egypt Revolution: 18 days of people power.

External Links

Occupy Movement

A very very brief history of occupation tactics

Occupation as refrain: territory and beyond in Occupy London

Privatization and Protest: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Toronto, and the Occupation of Public Space in a Democracy