Accepted Paper:

When narratives travel: the Occupy movement in Latvia and Sweden  

Author:

Anne Kaun (Institute for Media and Communication Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The Occupy Wall Street movement has been considered as a global protest network consisting of nodes linked by a communicative infrastructure, but rather than a network the movement should be understood as a travelling narrative characterized by very specific reshapings in different localities.

Paper long abstract:

September 17th 2013 marked the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), which in autumn 2011 quickly spread worldwide setting the stage for the global Occupy movement. During the last two years the movement has changed considerably. The camps have disappeared and activists have developed ideas loosely linked to OWS into different directions. These are obvious changes over time, however, Occupy as an idea also changed while travelling to other localities. In this context, the movement has often been considered as a global protest network consisting of nodes linked by the communicative infrastructure of blogs, digests, and social networking platforms. While the network metaphor has been helpful to develop an understanding of communicative connectivity worldwide identifying nodes within the network, it also has been criticized for technological determinism and overemphasis of central nodes while missing the peripheries and in that sense for the establishment of new hierarchies. I argue that rather than one strongly interlinked network, the Occupy movement should be understood as a travelling narrative characterized by very specific reshapings and reinterpretations in different localities. In the paper, Occupy Stockholm and Occupy Latvia provide cases to illustrate this point from an explicitly European perspective identifying the specificity of European Occupy narratives. The main aim is, hence, to suggest a narrative approach to analyse global protest movements such as Occupy demanding radical and historical contextualization. The paper uses interviews with activists and a discourse analysis of mainstream news outlets to illustrate the methodological points being made.

Panel P027
Immateriality, mobility and the network (ANTHROMOB)