Hugo Castro Salamanca.


The 15M is gestated during the first years of crisis (2008-2010) and was born in 2011. Decrease in GDP, decrease in the purchasing power of the middle class, deflation, job insecurity, speculation, historical peaks in unemployment, daily evictions, growth in social inequality, disastrous political responses … How will the population not react? On May 15, 2011 130000 people  decide to take the streets and squares (Marín, O, 2013, 3). They do not seek the attainment of a social demand; They channel a fury, a moan, a general discontent … They are outraged. It seems logical to think that the emotional atmosphere that was breathed in the assemblies and encampments would ooze anger, disgust, protest … Nothing further from reality. Happiness, empowerment, fierceness, joy … They were the predominant emotions. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The rebellion of the indignant is, without doubt, the greatest social movement in our recent history. As such, it perfectly overcomes the theoretical filters that fulfill these dynamics.

First, there are objective conditions that favor the appearance of a social protest. The impoverished macroeconomic situation peppered with the subsequent austerity policies taken by the government led to nothing more and nothing less than the biggest structural (economic-political) crisis of the 21st century.

Second, there is a framework of political opportunities that is quite suitable for 15M. On the one hand, we have an ideal international scenario: The Arab Spring. This social phenomenon provided the necessary fertilizer for our Indignant Movement to flourish (Porta, D.D., Andretta, M., Fernandes, T., O’Connor, F., Romans, and others, 2017, 5). Specifically we refer to the base camp established in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, in January of that same year. The similarities between both actions are obvious. On the other hand, the Spanish political-institutional decentralization is undoubtedly an incentive that fuels the flame of the social movement. In this case, the platforms attached to 15M (DemocraciaRealYa, PAH, JuventudSinFuturo …), first-time social insurgents and the outraged phenomenon itself were protagonists in 60 different cities (Marín, O, 2013, 2). Finally, the municipal elections of May 22, 2011, after the beginning of the Sol´s camping, are another cause of social upheaval. 15M marked the 22M’s political agenda. A power vacuum is always a reason to make more noise.

Third, any social unrest that gets channeled necessarily develops some organizational structure. Collective action needs a mold from which to act. The structure can be horizontal or vertical, hierarchical or assembled … even the non-structure is itself a way of structuring itself. The Indignant Movement stood out for a totally horizontal structure. They repudiated the leaders, stigmatizing these as the cause of political discredit. Citizen assemblies, direct democracy prevailed … the most pure and popular decision making. They rejected the “politicking” proper to the cusp as the inter-representativity of people.

Finally, the creation of a story is necessary. An ideological narration that allows ordering all these macroeconomic and political factors and giving them a meaning. A cultural discourse that personalizes the damaged and the harmful. A frame that raised the problem from a clear perspective and propose a solution. The 15M stood out by innumerable slogans whose purpose was to create a global identity, a superstructure that fed the argument of the social movement. These slogans achieved a great social penetration thanks to the massive use of social networks. Twitter and Facebook were main information dispersion nodes for the movement. Most popular slogans were: “Error 404: Democracy not founded”, “If you do not let us dream, we will not let you sleep”, “We are the 99%” … They did not leave anyone indifferent[1].

These four theoretical considerations form a favorable context for a social movement. Now, are these theorizations a necessary condition or sufficient condition for the birth, maintenance and / or success of a social phenomenon? They are necessary conditions for the birth, but not for the maintenance or success according to our point of view. In our opinion, the positive emotional charge and the affective interpersonal networks constitute the invisible structure of all social movement.

Study conducted by DatAnalysis15M. Graphic by Oscar Marín Miró.

The analysis, carried out by DatAnalysis15M, studies the most used tweets depending on the emotional load they entail. The 5 most widespread feelings were those collected here. What can we highlight? Feelings most present in social networks, more shared, were positive feelings. Empowerment and happiness. Something completely paradoxical. It does not stop surprising that a movement gestated during the economic crisis and calling itself “The outraged” is conveyed by positive emotional manifestations.

Why would a furious and fed-up crowd demonstrate such positive sentimental expressions?

From our point of view it is clear. The interpersonal relationships developed in the field of camping, assemblies, and concentrations are affective and empathetic relationships. The bonding that individuals feel, the affinity that they display with each other is a much more powerful feeling than any macroeconomic, political or even any ideological discourse.

Moreover, in our opinion, you can not understand a social movement without attending the micro dimension, the individuals considered individually and the relationships they share between them. It is these interpersonal emotional associations that keep the movement alive. It was these that allowed people to persevere in their demands and get up in the 15M camps with a smile.

If we are right, we are presented with two reflections on this. From the formal point of view, the theorists of politics, history, sociology … they have a long way to go in studying emotions because they are absent in the analysis models of social movements.

From a perspective of ethics, the following could be stated: If it is true that emotions are engines of the social movement, does it make any sense to consider the phenomenon as a ideological movement? That is to say, to what extent is the solemnity of the advocated ideology internalized and dominant among the members of the movement?



  • Della Porta, Donatella, Massimiliano Andretta, Tiago Fernandes, Francis O’Connor, Eduardo Romanos, and Markos Vogiatzoglou. 2017. Late Neoliberalism And Its Discontents In The Economic Crisis. Switzerland: Macmillan
  • Marín, Óscar. 2013. “Hacia un método de análisis del lenguaje y contenido emocional en la gestación y explosión del 15M en Twitter”. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Redes, movimientos y tecnopolítica.
  • 15M: Acontecimiento, Emociones Colectivas Y Movimientos En Red (Beta) | Tecnopolítica”. 2017. Tecnopolitica.Net. http://tecnopolí
  • Robledo, Pedro. 2017. “Movimiento15m“. Movimiento15m.Org.



  • [1] The indignant movement was also characterized by trying to reunite the entire Spanish population. By not asking for something in particular but to present themselves as an exercise in democratic and economic fatigue, they sought massive support.