Manuel Castells' Networks of Outrage and Hope (2012) details the process of creating networked social movements that are born of outrage over an "unbearable tragedy" and fueled by hope for change. These movements make use of what Castells calls "autonomous communication" to develop social power via individuals that counters institutional power monopolies. The movement is a hybrid of online social media networks and public space through which protesters make themselves heard. Castells uses various recent social movements – Tunisia, Island, Egypt, Spain, and the United States – to highlight the similarities in the formations of these movements as well as how some of them have served as partial catalysts (or at least inspirations) for later ones.

One aspect of this study that draws my attention is the hybridization of these movements, their simultaneous online/offline presence. Castells argues, speaking specifically about OWS, that the movement built "a new form of space, a mixture of space of places, in a given territory, and a space of flows, on the Internet." Also, occupied spaces create "a new form of time"  which is characterized by a feeling of "'forever'" due to the disruption of protesters' daily lives (168-169). I would add that the new temporality also comes from the connection to the occupied public space: the participant may feel stuck in time while staying in a camp, but time still moves when one is following tweets, Facebook status updates, and YouTube videos. The colliding of Internet space and time and public space and time may be one factor in the eventual "success" or "failure" of particular movements (depending on how one defines those terms).

I am also intrigued by the demographics of the movements that Castells charts. A pattern seems to emerge where those most active in each movement are the educated youth, sometimes seen as those who have the worst job prospects as well as those most aware of and familiar with digital technologies and online social media. I am still processing this information, and perhaps I do not have enough in-depth knowledge of the formation and progress of social movements historically, but it does seem as if the heavy use of online social media to fuel these particular uprisings (as well as the results of said movements) could benefit from a detailed discussion of how digital technologies have affected the ways people process information and use that processing to act upon the offline world.

Discussion Questions:

1) Regarding autonomous communication, Castells says, "The autonomy of communication is the essence of social movements because it is what allows the movement to be formed, and what enables the movement to relate to society at large beyond the control of the power holders over communication power" (11). My brain is getting stuck on the word "autonomy." After reading about the massive failure of the Egyptian government to disable the uprising against Mubarak by attempting to shut down the Internet, I am not arguing against the physical inability to completely disrupt an Internet-based movement. But since the Internet functions on a corporate model (ISPs providing service for fees, corporate control over individual use of bandwidth, images, sound, etc.), Castells seems a bit idealistic regarding this concept.

2) For each of these social movements, the resistance used a horizontal (aka "leaderless") model rather than a vertical hierarchy of power, thus demonstrating that social organization and social change are both possible using said model. However, when the goals were achieved (or in the case of OWS, when the moral statement seemed to have been sufficiently disseminated), the resistance seemed to fade and hierarchical structures of power resumed dominance (even if certain dictators were deposed). Can a leaderless, non-violent society exist on a national, international, global scale? How might the Internet serve as its own example of a longer-term functioning model, especially as it continues to affect how people think and respond to the world around them? (I totally have Marshal McLuhan running through my head – "The medium is the message.")

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