Mobilization through Online Social Networks: the political protest of the indignados in Spain


Work data:

Type of work: Working Paper


e-Democracy | Politics and Political Science




This paper argues that the 15M demonstration (kick off of the indignados movement in Spain and seed of the occupy mobilizations) presents some outstanding characteristics that defy central principles of the collective action paradigm. We argue that intensive mobilization in digital media, and particularly social networks, managed to channel collective outrage through many small organizations with little resources or mobilization experience in this type of massive protests. This had implications for the social and political characteristics of the individuals that participated in the protest event. Based on a comparative analysis of data gathered in nine demonstrations celebrated in Spain between 2010 and 2011, we find relevant and significant differences in the characteristics of the 15M staging organizations (recently created, without formal membership and scarce resources), the main mobilization channels (personal contact and online social networks rather than co-members or broadcast media), and participants (younger, more educated but less politically involved). These findings have important implications for the mobilization potential of digital media and social networks in particular, as well as for the role of traditional political organizations.