Social movements are indispensable to a growing and evolving culture, as they provide a way for current systems and social-stigma to change. Simons and Jones (2011) define social movements as “uninstitutionalized” movements that occur outside the mainstream (p. 480). Of course, this must be correct. Think about it, if social movements were mainstream, would they really fit the bill as a social movement? If the call to change the political system came from within the political system, would change really be possible?
My answer is no. That if you set up a system to encompass change, that super-system will still exist unchanged (because it was designed to handle the change). An illustration of this point is the Constitution of the United States. It lays out how amendments to itself can be made. And we have made amendments. And that change never changed the fact that the constitution is still the law of the land. Even though we have added amendments to the constitution which arose from social movements (i.e. social rights movement, women suffrage), the Constitution “foresaw” these changes and made a way for them to happen, thus the change in the Constitution cannot be called a social movement. The change in people’s opinions and the growth of an idea from grassroots to mainstream is the social movement.
The movement I am focusing on is the Indignant Movement, from which came the Occupy movement. These protests came from the general feeling of not being represented by any traditional party and being downtrodden by the politicians and bankers in Spain. The protesters came together out of a shared rejection of unemployment, welfare cuts, Spanish politicians, the two-party political system in Spain, capitalism, banks and bankers, and political corruption (“Miles de personas … banqueros'”, 2011). They stand for “basic rights”: home, work, culture, health, and education (“La manifestación … España”, 2011). The artifact I have for analysis is a poster from the organization website for the movement. The organization is called Democracia Real YA (in English: Real Democracy NOW).
In the eyes of Simon and Jones, the Indignant Movement would fit their category of reformist movement, seeking “replacement of corrupt or incompetent officials” (2011, p. 482). The second category it almost fits in is revolutionary, but only inasmuch as the Indignant Movement wants to improve and/or replace the current two party political system in Spain.
Translated from Spanish, the poster says up top, “We aren’t merchandise in the hands of politicians and bankers”. Underneath it says, “Take the street,” with the date May 15, 2011 listed. Then, at the bottom it says, “Find out at www.democraciarealya.es.” This poster obviously was used for plastering around town to get the word out about the movement.
The context of the artifact is wanting to get people’s attention about what is going on with the Spanish political system. The simple black on white is a good way to get people’s attention, especially because it makes the message really clear. There is no graphic to distract the reader nor is there a fancy and hard-to-read font to decipher. The poster uses the collective noun “we” to connect with the audience. This helps to bring people into the cause.
These posters were posted in the residential districts in Spain. Their call to action is a simple “Take the street!”, which can be connected with “occupy.” There is importance in the way this movement was a precursor of sorts to the more mainstream occupy movement, especially the one that took place in the United States. The poster also reminds me of the Kony 2012 flyers. They were also a call to action. They listed a date (the year, 2012) and a cause (in this case, “Kony”) as well, though the amount of information provided by the Kony 2012 flyers was a lot less. Some did not even have a website on them to find information (perhaps a moot point because just searching for “Kony 2012” on Google yields appropriate results).
The indignant movement was successful in its call to politicians to notice the people being made into “mechandise” and gave a rise to other country’s denizens to hold similar protests. Social movements are very important to society because they enable dignity to be brought to people who were used and demoralized before. The only reason laws remain in effect that marginalize people is that we haven’t done enough to change them. There is no one to blame except for ourselves. That is the power with social movements: they start with a few people raising awareness for a cause and they grow into a national phenomenon that changes the face of the country.
“La manifestación de ‘indignados’ reúne a varios miles de personas en toda España”. (2011, May 15). El País, p. 1. Retrieved from www.elpais.com.
“Miles de personas exigen dejar de ser ‘mercancías de políticos y banqueros'”. (2011, May 16). El Mundo, p. 1. Retrieved from web.archive.org.
Simons, H. W., & Jones, J. (2011). Persuasion in Society.