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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

How Social Activism Practices shape our Understanding of Political Participation

Nadia Ferrer
University of Bradford
Nadia Ferrer
University of Bradford

During the last years we have seen an increasing number of citizen’s mobilization and protests spreading around the globe. From the ‘Arab Spring’ mobilizations to the encampments in Spain, and the Occupy Movement, citizens without previous mobilization experience are constructing common links and processes that are shaping our understanding of political participation. This paper will analyse how the loss of social-bonds between the citizens and the State allows antagonist movements to re-claim spaces. Hence creating a complex network of subjectivities whose participatory-practices challenges western democracies.

This paper is divided into two main parts. Firstly, it will assess how de-socialization processes of the State pushes citizens to protest and to try to fulfil gaps left by governments’ politics. It will argue that mobilizations, especially after the relative success of the Arab Revolutions, have in common a shared belief on the transformative possibilities opened by mobilization experiences. Through the discourses born from these experiences, antagonist movements not only construct their identity but also enable affinity’s links with other struggles. On the other hand, drawing from Deleuze’s and Guattari’s concepts of desire and rhizomatic behaviour, I consider the insights of these recent mobilizations and participatory-practices, their composition and relation with previous protest movements such the Situationist International, autonomist or the Anti-Globalization movements.

Following Colletivo Situaciones concept of new protagonism, I will conclude that these resent protest movements do not only voiced citizens’ claims but demonstrated peoples capability to organize, create and reinvent other ways of participating in social politics and, thus, shifting understandings beyond current democracy practices.
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