Balzan Project

The cultural and social dimensions of the economic crisis 2008-2014: Financial cultures, human suffering, and social protests

Period: January 2014 – December 2016

Source of funding: International Balzan Foundation Prize

Partners: University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), University of Southern California (United States), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain)

Principal investigator: Manuel Castells

Description: 2011 is not only the year of the Mediterranean revolts but the beginning of the global spring. Since then we are witnessing the emergence of social movements in which networks play an important role. These have a number of characteristics that point to multiple and complex new perspectives to analyze and understand them. The social network movements as we have decided initially to name them, are in close relation with communication networks, due to their open and permeable character, and their ability to transform themselves at a fast speed.

Network movements seem to have real and deep impacts in the societies they emerge from. At the same time, there are significant relations among these movements in different countries that push us to start looking at them in their relational dimension. First, it was the Tahrir Square and the imagination of the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, and the mobilizations in South Europe as Greece or Portugal on 2010, inspiring the 15M movement and its camps in Spain. After that, 15M acted as a catalyst for the initial steps of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Later, the explosions in Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey had a lot of references to the previous movements. Within this context, it is timely and relevant to analyze these movements from its complex perspective.

This project aims to conduct an in-depth analysis of two selected network movements: 15M in Spain and Occupy Wall Street in the US. We will conduct a double level analysis that took into account the particularities of each country. First, we will analyze the characteristics, composition, and impacts of each movement. Second, we will compare them so to understand their dynamics and their evolution from an international perspective.