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Among Militants and Deliberative Laboratories: The “Indignados”

Ernesto Ganuza
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Ernesto Ganuza
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Héloïse Nez
Université de Tours / Citeres

With the emergence of “new social movements” in the 1970s and the global justice movement in the late 1990s, participatory and deliberative democracy has become a major principle of collective action. Until recently, however, this principle has remained limited to activist circles and practices. On May 15th, 2011 Spain saw a social movement emerge that was in many ways unprecedented: it was not an offspring of these previous social movements, but deliberation was central to its claims and practices. We contend that this centrality is related to the deliberative turn in local public action and to the increased deliberative use of the Internet and social networks. This chapter examines the passage from deliberation in social movement micro spheres to deliberation in the public sphere, analyzing the genealogy, specificity and impact of deliberative practices experienced in the popular assemblies of the 15M movement. Data come from an ethnographic study conducted in Madrid since the inception of the movement: we observed the dynamics of the camp and assemblies in Puerta del Sol and in several neighborhoods, and we conducted semi-structured interviews with various actors involved in the 15M movement. While other social movements have also claimed the principles of horizontality, inclusion and transparency in their decision-making process, the 15M movement is exceptional not only due to the central role given to deliberation but also to the establishment of disciplinary techniques tending to ensure its implementation.
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