(2014) Social and political impacts of the 15M movement in Spain [ENG]

Tuesday 8 April 2014, by Miguel Angel Martinez

All the versions of this article: [English]

Martínez López, M., & Domingo San Juan, E. (2014). Social and political impacts of the 15M Movement in Spain.

Miguel A. Martínez López (m.a.martinez@cityu.edu.hk) City University of Hong Kong

Elena Domingo San Juan (dsjelena@googlemail.com) Technische Universität Dresden


How does one identify and assess the social and political impact of an anti-neoliberal and anti-crisis movement such as the 15M in Spain? In particular, there is a striking challenge when the limits and identity of this movement are very blurred. In this paper we adopt a triple strategy of analysis: 1) we consider that the multiple goals of the movement and, thus, any assessment of its impacts, depend on its structural conditions of emergence and first stage of development; 2) we argue that the self-reproduction of the movement is a significant impact beyond its ability to keep alive the mobilisation although any resulting group, campaign and movement provides specific contexts where claims are meaningful; 3) we distinguish the different scales, contexts and power relationships where the impacts may be identified and qualified, instead of just mirroring the initial opportunities and constraints in a deterministic way. The empirical evidence used in this research stems from secondary sources of information such as mass media coverage, data and opinions provided by the movement organisations and on-line social networks. Our analysis shows that the institutional impacts of the 15M movement have been very limited, in spite of some successful lawsuits and a permanent capacity to challenge the authorities in its first three years of existence. Some specific campaigns (anti-privatisation and anti-evictions) had accomplished many of their goals although the power elites and the prevailing socio-economic structures remained almost intact. What has been a more pervasive effect of the 15M is the provision of a deeper non-institutional and counter-hegemonic political culture as well as a manifold set of practical initiatives of self-organisation. Finally, we argue that these outcomes may be explained by the lingering cohesion of the elites, the lack of effective access of the movement to the State institutions and the increase of the repressive measures against the movement.

Key words: social movements outcomes, anti-neoliberalism, Spain, 15M movement