Comparing digital protest media imaginaries: anti-austerity movements in Greece, Italy & Spain
Emiliano Treré, Sandra Jeppesen and Alice Mattoni | 2017 | article in tripleC
This article presents findings from an empirical study of repertoires of contention and communication engaged during anti-austerity protests by the Indignados in Spain, the precarious generation in Italy, and the Aganaktismenoi in Greece. Drawing on 60 semistructured interviews with activists and independent media producers involved in the 2011 wave of contention, we bring together social movement and communications theoretical frameworks to present a comparative critical analysis of digital protest media imaginaries.
After examining the different socio-political and protest media contexts of the three countries translocally, our critical analysis emphasizes the emergence of three different imaginaries: in Spain the digital protest media imaginary was technopolitical, grounded in the politics and political economies of communication technologies emerging from the free culture movement; in Italy this imaginary was techno-fragmented, lacking cohesion, and failed to bring together old and new protest media logics; and finally in Greece it was techno-pragmatic, envisioned according to practical objectives that reflected the diverse politics and desires of media makers rather than the strictly technological or political affordances of the digital media forms and platforms.
This research reveals how pivotal the temporal and geographical dimensions are when analyzed using theoretical perspectives from both communications and social movement research; moreover it emphasizes the importance of studying translocal digital protest media imaginaries as they shape movement repertoires of contention and communication; both elements are crucial to better understanding the challenges, limitations, successes and opportunities for digital protest media.