Monthly Archives: April 2012
Information as an ecosystem, organization as an ecosystem, too: The complex composition of the current wave of mobilizations
In this time of many crises – ecological, political, financial and geopolitical restructuring – large mobilizations are occurring in several places such as the Arab countries, Iceland, Greece and United States. Spain has also witnessed an emerging wave of social mobilization starting on 15M (May 15, 2011) with some of the largest demonstrations, since the country transitioned to democracy in the 70s, comprising large-scale occupations of public squares and attempts to prevent the functioning of parliament by many thousands of people. 15M – alternatively known as indignados mobilization –not only caused surprise because of the size of the protest, but also by its character. With new technologies in information and communication (ICTs) playing an important role in the mobilization process, the 15M movement has become the latest and greatest exponent of “self-mobilization” arranged through the Internet.
The past March 21st, we celebrated here at the Berkman center for Internet & society a very interesting workshop on “Understanding the New Wave of Social Cooperation: A Triangulation of the Arab Revolutions, European Mobilizations and the American Occupy Movement”. One of the workshop line of discussion was movement composition. Pointing to the diverse composition of occupy movement, arab spring, and European mobilizations. Many interesting reflections emerged. Additionally, all this last week I have been working with interviews and other empirical materials in order to further analyze and characterize the 15M composition in Spain for an article I wrote. Here my main conclusion: It is not easy to describe the composition of the overall 15M, complexity is the main characteristic of 15M format.
The Global Justice Movement (GJM) of the early 2000s was described as a “movement of movements”. However, this characterization does not suit the 15M, as it has many more layers that together create a complex ecosystem. As it happens with information, happens with organization. In my view, 15M composition is characterized as a complex ecosystem of diverse layers. These layers include a new generation of mobilized citizens, and the juxtaposition of the housing movement and Free culture movement creating the first surprising start; then, in the squares, the convergence of the anti-austerity trajectory of mobilization, student movement, occupied social centers, and the alternative practices resulting from the previous wave of the GJM; the “info-actions” of individual networked at home, that helps the sustainability of an international network of solidarity; then, the support and solidarity against the oppression of previous generations fighting for political freedom in the transition to democracy, and, the strong support of much of the population for the precarious living conditions – altogether generating a virtual cycle that obtained large social support and engagement (online and off-line) for the mobilizations.
15M as a complex ecosystem of diverse layers creates challenges for analytical and methodological designs of social movements, particularly for the approaches that frame participation as an isolated individual activity or that analyzes only one type of participation. For example, it is common in the social movements literature to focus only on strong participants, to focus only on leaders or in strongly committed activist. In my view, these designs are limited and inadequate. Instead, I argue that paying attention to and considering the complexity of participation layers in the research design is appropriate, as each of the layers is important and plays a role to understand the overall process. However, using an ecosystem approach in the analysis of 15M – or other examples of the current wave of mobilization world wise – clearly represents a methodological challenge.
Open Street Map is a very interesting experience of collaborative and free production of maps, without much of the problems that Google map involves. Frederik Ramm, who is very involved on Open Street Maps, contacted me to write a blog post about what OpenStreetMap could learn from Wikipedia in term of its organizational architecture. He did a great job! I very much suggest his post: http://osm.gryph.de/2012/04/learn-from-wikipedia/
A Consortium on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) Inaugural speech By Sidney Tarrow “Occupying America: Lessons for Social Movement Theory”
A Consortium on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos)
Inaugural speech By Sidney Tarrow
“Occupying America: Lessons for Social Movement Theory”
Chaired by Donatella della Porta
Welcome address by Laszlo Bruszt
On April 30 2012, 3-5pm in the Theater
Life streaming available at
The Consortium on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) is part of the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the European University Institute. Focusing on social movements as part of broader contentious politics, it promotes theoretically-driven empirical analyses on forms, dimensions, causes and impacts of social movements, in established democracies as well as authoritarian regimes. Particular attention is given to social movements as promoters of democratization processes.
Cosmos aims at raising funds for research projects on social movements. In the spirit of methodological pluralism, it welcomes qualitative and quantitative approaches to undertake empirical investigations. Cross-national comparative project are complemented by analyses of transnational phenomena. .
Building upon a cross-disciplinary tradition in social movement studies, Cosmos also aims at increased cooperation among the the fields of political science and sociology, as well as anthropology, history, psychology, philosophy, law, economics and area studies.
In order to improve synergies and networking among researchers in social movement studies, Cosmos organizes conferences, colloquia, public lectures, seminar series and other public events that will bring together expertise from the EUI as well as from other universities. It welcomes research students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars from any discipline interested in the Centre’s themes. It also aims at facilitating the communicating of research findings on the mentioned topics to the academia, the public sphere and policy makers.
Prof. Dr. Donatella della Porta
Department of Political and Social Sciences
European University Institute
Badia Fiesolana, Via dei Roccettini, 9,
50014 San Domenico di Fiesole Firenze, Italy
39 055 4685240 — secretary (Adele Battistini) 055 4685211
«·´¨*·¸¸« Mayo Fuster Morell ».¸.·*¨`·»
Research Digital Commons Governance: http://www.onlinecreation.info
Fellow Berkman center for Internet and Society. Harvard University.
Postdoctoral Researcher. Institute of Govern and Public Policies. Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Visiting scholar. Internet Interdisciplinary Institute. Open University of Catalonia (UOC).
Member Research Committee. Wikimedia Foundation
Ph.D European University Institute
Visiting researcher (2008). School of information. University of California, Berkeley.
Phone United States: 001 – 8576548231
Phone Spanish State: 0034-648877748
23 Everett Street, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
+1 (617) 495-7547 (Phone)
+1 (617) 495-7641 (Fax)
Personal Postal Address USA:
The Acetarium http://www.acetarium.com/
265 Elm Street – 4
Somerville, MA, USA