Refiguring Democracy: The Spanish Political Laboratory, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Refiguring Democracy

The Spanish Political Laboratory, 1st Edition

By Ramón A. Feenstra, Simon Tormey, Andreu Casero-Ripollés, John Keane


120 pages

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pub: 2017-05-15
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Spain has become a remarkable democratic laboratory in which millions of citizens are experimenting with new forms of political expression. This book examines the dynamics of this political laboratory, showing that the upheavals it is experiencing are likely in the near future to affect democracies elsewhere in the world. Examining the new means of participation that were established in fields where digital communication tools enabled the launch of novel dynamics of political action, the reader will gain access to a comprehensive analysis of the reshaping and mutation process that has affected fields such as activism, political parties and political participation.

Using a case study of the Spain between 2011 and 2015, the book focuses on the changes that have taken place in politics and communication in Spain, paying particular attention to the 15M movement and its disruptive, innovative strength in all matters related to politics and communication. The chapters cover political repertoires and the hybridization of horizontal and vertical political logics; the appearance of new political parties; the establishment of monitoring mechanisms as an essential means of political expression and participation; and the subversion of rationality across media as a product of the communication strategies implemented by online political activism.

Showing that Spain is not just at the forefront of democratic innovation, but that it is a political laboratory in which trials are taking place that tell us much about the future of democracy everywhere, this book will be of great use to scholars of political theory, democracy and philosophy.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 The transformation of political logics. Beyond the ‘horizontal’ and the ‘vertical’?

‘Vertical’ versus ‘horizontal’

Towards a differentiation of the 15M political repertoire

The 15M political repertoire and the vertical-horizontal theoretical axis

Activists’ responses to the vertical-horizontal axis

Towards a characterisation of 15M


Chapter 2 The emergence of new political parties

From street protests to taking over the institutions

The new parties and digital media

The impact of the new parties on party-based democracy


Chapter 3 The appearance of monitoring as an emerging political dynamic

Monitory democracy: political transformation in communication-saturated societies

Three main fields of monitoring: governmental, civic and shared

Typology of civic monitoring


Chapter 4 Two-way street mediatisation of politics or overturn? The social media communication models of 15M and Podemos

Social media and mainstream media in today’s political communication

The 15M communication model: the relationship between online political activism and the mainstream media

Podemos’ communication model: take on the media without abandoning the networks *

Conclusions: democratic innovations and contributions from the field of political communication

Conclusion: the Spanish political laboratory in action


About the Authors

Ramón A. Feenstra is alecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology at the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, Spain.

Andreu Casero-Ripollés is head of the Department of Communication Sciences and associate professor at the Universitat Jaume I of Castelló, Spain.

John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Germany.

Simon Tormey is a professor at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis

We supposedly live in an anti-political age in which popular disaffection threatens to undermine the very foundations of democratic rule. From the rise of radical right wing populism through to public cynicism towards politicians, institutions and processes of government are being buffeted by unprecedented change that have in turn raised questions about the viability of seemingly foundational practices. Is confidence in those who rule beyond repair? Can citizens meaningfully engage in the political process? Are today’s leaders able to exercise authority?

Politicians often respond to these pressures by placing responsibility for decision making in the hands of experts, scientists, civil servants, and even private companies. However, their attempts to gain trust and credibility often fail as the media, lobbyists and social movements blame them for political failures and crises, from migration and floods to diseases and crime. Can politicians ever avoid blame for policy failures? When do usually technical issues become politicised, and by how do they pressurise politicians to step in? What are the implications for democratic accountability and responsibility at multiple levels, from city streets to global forums?

These sorts of questions reverberate around the globe and cut to the core of democratic life as we know it. They pose theoretical and empirical questions that are integral to the future of the way we are governed. The capacity of democracy to renew itself crucially depends on the answers we give.

This book series aims to provide a forum for the discussion of topics and themes related to anti-politics, depoliticisation, and political crisis. We seek works that push forward debate and challenge taken-for-granted orthodoxies. We privilege ambitious proposals that ask big questions and engage with a range of materials. Reflecting this, the series is intentionally pluralistic in its geographic, methodological and disciplinary scope. Empirical and comparative contributions are especially welcome.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / National
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Commentary & Opinion
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Media & Internet