The protests follow the 2008 Financial Crisis? and subsequent recession in the United States, which highlighted the growing divide between rich and poor in America. White House adviser David Plouffe said that "the protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America. . . . People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules." Other commentators dismissed the protests as the next Anti-capitalist Movement?.
The participants are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed?, as well as the democratic reform needed to reduce the power and influence of corporations, particularly from the financial service sector and their lobbyists. By October 9, 2011, similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S., including the estimated 100,000 people who demonstrated on October 15.