9th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics

In the last two days, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC) Law and Political Sciences department under the auspices of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) organised the 9th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics (IDP2013). This edition, held at the Agora Room of the CosmoCaixa Barcelona, was focused on Big Data from a legal standpoint and from the approach of politics.

The panel “Social Movements” moderated by Rosa Borge, included the study “Techno-politics and 15M” in which I contributed as member of DatAnalysis15M, “The study of social mobilization in the age of Big Data” by Jorge L Salcedo and Camilo Cristancho (UAB), and the study “Spanish Indignados and the evolution of 15M: towards networked para-institutions” that I co-authored with Ismael Peña-López and Mariluz Congosto

Figure by M. Congosto


The Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignados, the Occupy Movement (#jan25, #egypt, #arabspring, #15M, #29S, #occupywallst, #ows, #15O). In the last months the world has witnessed the emergence of networked citizen politics: besides institutions, but many times mimicking their nature; unlike traditional citizen movements, but very much alike in their essence. Networked citizen politics, characterized by decentralization, swarm-like action and an intensive use of Information and Communication Technologies, have been having a starring role in world-wide protests and movements, most of the times overtaking and circumventing the actions of governments, parliaments, political parties, labour unions, non-governmental organizations, mass media and all kinds of formal democratic institutions.

Taking the case of Spanish Indignados, the aim of this paper is to analyse the nature of networked citizen politics as an extra-representational kind of political participation after the usage of Twitter that has been made around the so called 15M movement. Firstly, users will be characterized, including a description on how movements propagate one onto another. Secondly, the paper will see what are the bonds between networked citizen movements and formal democratic institutions, how do they relate one with each other, especially the movements with political parties and mass media. It will also emphasize how networked citizen politics may use similar tools as the so mentioned Politics 2.0, but with very different purposes and, thus, results, and what is the result of the two clashing approaches.

Our analysis will show that different movements – i.e. 15M and 25S – act as a continuum for networked citizen politics that use the Internet as the support for new institutionalisms, and despite the lack of traditional organizations, people, practices and ideas are shared and used as foundations for further action. Notwithstanding, there almost is no inter-institutional dialogue with exceptions related with individuals belonging to minor and left-wing parties.

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