Communication among young people in the #spanishrevolution: Uses of online–offline tools to obtain information about the #acampadabcn.

Fernandez-Planells, A., Figueras-Maz, M., & Pàmpols, C. F.

Fernandez-Planells, A., Figueras-Maz, M., & Pàmpols, C. F. (2014). Communication among young people in the #spanishrevolution: Uses of online–offline tools to obtain information about the #acampadabcn. New Media & Society, 16(8), 1287–1308.

15M Movement , Activism , Communication , Indignados , Information Behavior , Outraged , Social Media , Social Movements , Spanishrevolution

Recently, social movements worldwide have introduced innovations in their communication methods. The #spanishrevolution that started on 15 May 2011 shows this new-style communication in action. Amidst regional election campaigning, thousands of people, mainly young, took to the streets and occupied Spain’s main squares, becoming known as the Outraged (los Indignados) or 15M Movement. This article evaluates how the Outraged involved with the #acampadabcn, the camp in Barcelona’s central square, used online–offline tools to get information about the Movement. This research combines participant observation, surveys, in-depth interviews, and web analytics. The results show that social media were vital for getting information during 15M. While the majority of those surveyed became aware of the camps via word of mouth, a posteriori it was social media that were the main tools for informing and mobilizing. 15M Movement, together with networked social movements, has updated the communication methods of social movements.

Main finding
Internet-based communication platforms are increasingly used as information-sharing resources among protest movements. This study explores the use of social media as an organizing and information tool during the 15M movement in Spain in 2011. Findings indicate that many protestors heard about the movement first by word of mouth, but that they subsequently became more informed about the movement by Internet searches and using social media (especially Twitter and Facebook). Moreover, many participants reported reliance upon the such platforms as primary information channels (with less reliance upon traditional formats such as television). However, one of the internet-based methods for information sharing about the protest (a weblog) was not updated frequently on the day of a major uprising, indicating that it did not serve as a vital information resource during a crucial time period and thus that emerging communication tools have a complex set of functions as well as limitations.

Description of method used in the article
Methods include participant observation, a survey (N = 339), in-depth interviews (N = 15), and web searches (hashtags, Twitter, Google Trends). The survey focused on questions related to the (a) “social profile” of participants in the square, (b) their use of camp communication channels, and (c) their use of conventional media. Participant data was collected primarily in June 2011 while the Placa de Catalunya, Barcelona's central square was occupied by the 15M Movement.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Archival / Historical Interviews Survey
Physical types
Geographic locations