Political Participation and Activism in the POST15M Era: Young People’s Political Identifications in Lleida, Catalonia

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:00
Oral Presentation
Eduard BALLESTÉ ISERN, University of Lleida, Department of Geography and Sociology, Spain
New spaces for political participation have emerged since the beginning of the Los Indignados 15M movement, in 2011. Drawing on an ethnographic inquiry into youth activism in Lleida (Spain), the authors identify and analyse new forms of political participation generated since 15M. They focus on the discursive construction around the actors’ own accounts of what they call ‘new political activism’, and consider how it differs from more conventional understandings of political participation. In this way, two post-15M movements are analysed, including their evolution and how the involvement of the young activists has changed them. In that sense, their focus is on the intergenerational tensions that emerged between the so-called White Tide (Marea Blanca), in defence of public health, and the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (Plataforma de Afectados por las Hipotecas), which was committed to stopping home evictions and to fighting for citizens’ rights to adequate housing. This communication pay special attention to examining youth activism in Lleida from the perspective of the dichotomy of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ political practices.

The communication starts with a description of the conceptual approach of different types of young political activists in the post-15M era. Next, the authors analyse the participation of young political activists in both movements, from December 2014 until summer of 2016, establishing some conclusions on youth political participation and its relation with other (older) actors in these movements.

Finally, these dynamics are traced using data obtained through participant/engaged observation in these political movements, semi-structured interviews guided by the ethnographic process and a discussion group in each movement, together with a review of the information produced by the media and the movements themselves. This analysis enables the authors to examine the concepts of ‘new’ and ‘old’ politics, and the understanding that the young activists have of them.