Digital Mobilization and Social Movements in Southern Europe Under Austerity
XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology
In Europe, southern countries witnessed a great upsurge of protests . Our own transnational online survey (Networked Cultures Survey 2016) found that approximately one third of Greek respondents participated or were present in global protest actions or demonstrations against austerity, followed by 23 .8 per cent of Spanish respondents . This may well mirror the sustained period of struggles closely related to austerity and the ability of relevant new parties (Syriza and Podemos) to capitalize on discontent and their involvement in anti-austerity movements . Key aspects of those protests include the role of new media as instruments of mobilization; the combination of material, political and identity claims, and the proposal of new forms of organization, especially horizontal, and of decision making and representation . In this emergent ecology, the borderlines between different types of protest have become less defined and there is a growing cooperation between different actors. Our data suggests that significant proportions of demonstrators, especially from Italy, France and Portugal, were not mobilized through traditional political institutions (unions, parties and NGOs). Furthermore, the crisis and austerity have also had dramatic effects at the level of institutional politics, mainly in the case of the group of countries referred to as the PIIGS . In 2011, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, the countries most affected by the crisis, changed their governments before the end of the parliamentary term . Although the ongoing processes of political change in Southern Europe may be shaping up in different ways, one common background condition can be distinguished, namely, the growing importance of modes of engagement through connective types of action (Bennett and Segerberg 2012), that might generate original alternatives to exercise (individually or collectively) autonomous action. Our argument is that communicational changes, specifically in the current context of the networked communication model (Cardoso 2007), also strongly contribute to political transformation.
Digital technologies,Economic crisis,Political participation,Social Movements