Indignation as Resistance: Beyond the Anxiety of No Future Alternatives

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In the context of anti-austerity mobilizations that originated in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, the Spanish protests against austerity measures – such as budget cuts on public health system and education –, and against house evictions, have lately caught the scholarly attention. While social scientists have focused on either the organisational configurations or the strategies of these movements, this papers aims to stress the essential political role of emotional dynamics in current political realm. Drawing on both protest event analysis and political theory, this paper focuses particularly on recent Spanish cases – mainly the Indignados and the movement against house evictions, the Mortgage Victims’ Platform (PAH, in Spanish) – arguing that a broad vision of political emotions can bring a theoretical contribution to the study of current protest movements.
Firstly, we contend that a process of subject formation is taking place within these movements. Mostly formed by young unemployed and indebted homeowners, protesters and activists are the symbol of the neoliberal subjectivity, representing the junction of current political, social, and economic trends: anxious, precarious and indebted lives, and political powerlessness.
Secondly, we focus on the resilience potential that these contentious practices – and the political emotions they originate from – bring about. We argue that they stress the dysfunctions of our current democracies, setting not only unconventional form of mobilization that challenge the role traditionally performed by political institutions; rather they constitute an alternative form of political action that opens up a social horizon that goes beyond the logic of denial of future/alternative possibilities, led by financial institutions.
Our discussion contributes to both the literature on social movement and the theory of political subjectivity, and highlights the need for taking emotional dynamics into account in the study of protest movements and their broad political consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitics of Anxiety
Number of pages164
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Protest
  • Austerity
  • Populism
  • Emotion


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