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This contribution is justified by the necessity of analyzing the participative content that the interactive youth transmitted in the use of ICTs and social networks in the origin of the social movement of the Spanish Revolution. Our objectives have been focused on proving how young people feel, live and experience the democratic citizenship by means of audiovisual display systems, participating in public open spaces where a better informed digital citizenship is being formed among the technological convergence, hypertextuality and non linearity. We have tried to identify both the educational content of their interactions and implications and the use of audiovisual display systems in their organization as a group. The methodology we have used is the in-depth case study in the days when people occupied public spaces. We collected observations, interviews, information from the social networks (Twitter, Facebook, n-1, Tuenti), news in the media and also information, posters and photographs generated during the occupation by the participants themselves. From this techno-educational point of view we analyze how these young people widen their communicative relationships and get connected on line creating new meanings for educational, social and political issues. The analysis of their speeches shows us a reappropriation of the ICTs by these young people who express and communicate publicly and contributing in this way with new points of view for the citizenship education.
Social networks, interactive youth, citizenship, media culture, participation, youth culture, identity, digital citizenship
The origin of this work focuses on one of the most significant phenomena of our present history, played out by the socalled 15M movement, which has had a surprising impact on the media and produced political effects that have altered the civicsocial orthodoxy in our country. Such social mobilization would not have been possible without the use of ICTs, for ideas and projects require technologies for implementation – technologies which, in turn, contain and implement ideas and actions. In this regard, it is essential to describe not only the types of technologies and their uses but also the content transmitted by them, the values and experiences of citizens involved in public life and ICTs users who disseminate alternative ideas. At the same time, we see how institutions like the family and the school have lost strength and capacity due in part to outdated ideas in their teaching, and how the media and peer relationships have gained strength, cultivated by youth through interactive media and digital media (Drotner & Livingstone, 2008). The situation was ripe for a significant number of them, socialized in the new media devices, especially in recreational and leisure contexts, to acquire a specific role in the strategic moment prior to the municipal elections in the spring of 2011, and to organize a citizens’ platform made up of more than six hundred organizations that stormed the streets on May 15, involving a significant portion of the dissatisfied and indignant population.
This social movement is relevant here because of the narratives generated in the processes of communication and education, through which a number of strategies are put into action, a set of attitudes are developed, and a system of relations is established which defines the role and prominence of people who interact and participate in public activities. The evolution in the understanding of media education –including concern for the analysis of the syntax and semantics of visual language, the teaching of the use of the tools and the necessary analysis of the messages, content and meaning transmitted in the media– is an important development and responsibility for those doing research in these two interrelated fields. In this trajectory, Web 2.0 is considered to be a social site where users in the 15M movement have generated their own content and shared their own production, thus converting themselves into educational, political and social agents. This justifies the interest in qualitatively addressing the disappearance of the hierarchical relationship between academic knowledge and popular knowledge in the media, between the professional political tradition and citizens’ own experience, and between the content covered by the law and the demands for alternative interpretations of the law. Networks, newspapers, signs and photographs now circulate the criticisms of those who have taken control of the media and seek to reappropriate a new style of civic behaviour.
In the above conditions, theorizing which presents, in an appropriate way, the understanding of the Spanish Revolution as a social, educational and mediatic movement, explored from the perspective of citizenship education, is based on Dahlgren’s civic cultures (2011), the appropriation a new communication paradigm (Morales, Alvarez & Loyola, 2011) and contributions from Douglas Kellner’s cultural studies (2011).
• Civic cultures are the framework intended to assist and illustrate the specific conditions that are necessary for participation, which comprises those cultural resources that can be used by citizens and which is supported largely through the media. Therefore, this framework is to specify the ways in which the media –especially Internet– facilitate active civic behaviour. More generally, it is recognized that the basic parameters of civic cultures derive from the structural relations of social power, the economy, the legal system and the possibilities of organization, and all of them can have their own impacts. However, from the perspective of the actor, what characterizes civic behaviour is access to the centrality of the media. Its form, content, specific logic and modes of use are the media of civic culture. Dahlgren presents six dimensions with a certain reciprocity amongst them, the first three are made known through the established tradition of political communication and the last three come from the currents of contemporary cultural theory: 1) knowledge for active ownership, 2) democratic values??, 3) confidence in collective participation, 4) physical and virtual spaces for communication, 5) new practices and civic skills, 6) strong civic identities (Dahlgren & Olsson, 2008; Dahlgren, 2011: 69).
• Appropriation as a new communication paradigm can be used to explain the relationship between subjects and the media with different modalities. The fact that the 15M movement’s social groups appropriate the media and ICTs is connected with and extends to the appropriation of basic concepts of citizen organization: what is right or wrong, the legality or illegality of certain actions, the resignification of education, the demands of real democratization, participation in public decision making. Appropriating the media and educational meanings means the emergence of new practical proposals for a different possible society. The utility of appropriation as a process that defines the relationship of subjects/users to the media and to the communication technologies of the competent citizen becomes relevant in order to address the significance and meanings that circulate through the media in the hands of the participants in the 15M movement. This process continues to be controversial and confrontational when other groups or communities come into conflict or when people begin to question socioeducational traditions or obsolete systems of civic delegation.
• Finally, contributions from the media through cultural studies help us to understand how the media can condition the processes of socialization and education. According to Kellner, cultural texts in the media are neither mere vehicles for the dominant ideology nor pure and innocent entertainment. Rather, they are an artefact that embodies complex social and political discourses, the analysis and interpretation of which require critical reading methods that articulate their insertion into political economy, social relations and the political environment in which they are produced, circulated and are received (Kellner, 2011: 11). In politics, media images have produced a new kind of politics of slogans and statements that places the media at the centre of political life. In social interactions, massproduced pictures guide personal presentation in everyday life, people’s ways of relating to others and the creation of social values ??and goals (Kellner, 2011: 24). Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the meaning of placards, signs, slogans, videos posted on the web or shouted at assemblies and demonstrations. The simplification that participants in the Spanish Revolution make of social and political issues is directed at the average citizen, taking on an eminently pedagogical character.
The purpose of the study is to identify, within a new social situation, the democratic «ethos» understood to be the experience or feeling of young people when interacting and communicating with others, as a symbolic order that makes rules to regulate the behaviour that is desirable or not, within the framework of the R&D&I Project «Citizenship in new digital and school settings: relationships and implications for students of compulsory secondary education (ESO)».
The 15M movement has a global dimension in which, for purposes of this research, a spatiotemporal cut was made, located in Granada for thirtytwo intense days which chronicled the origin, development and local effects on the urban context and which were organized and carried out by the groups «Asamblea Plaza del Carmen» (Plaza del Carmen Assembly) and «#AcampadaGranada» (#GranadaCamp). The design, more emergent than prefixed, due to the unpredictability of the actions, is articulated in a case study (Stake, 2007) appropriate for the study of people and their interactions in the physical setting of the square and the virtual stage built by movement participants. Applying a strict ethical code, access by the research participant in #GranadaCamp was simple although the dynamics of the square were extremely complex, and keeping the field diary involved a wide variety of dense descriptions, semistructured interviews and collection of materials.
Likewise, an analysis was made of documents generated by the assembly itself (press releases, reports, the newspaper «Ágora», videos from the channel Vimeo and from YouTube, livestreaming reports on «Televisión Acampada» (Camp TV); signs and slogans developed by activists, news articles published in the local press (Ideal, Granada Hoy) and other selected national media reports. In addition to these documents over 500 photos were taken and multiple videos. Regarding the extension of the camp into the virtual environment, data were collected from the social networks Twitter, Facebook, n1 and Tuenti.
All material collected was designed to identify the interpretive framework of #GranadaCamp activists, related to their democratic experience in relations, communications and experiences of their own involvement or disaffection in collective actions. The process of data reduction and transformation soon led to the generation of issues and topics related to the purpose of the study. Analysis and interpretation of data were carried out under the qualitative criteria hailing unique groups, critical subjectivity, researcher reflexivity and reciprocity (Simon, 2011: 181).
In this respect we performed a deep examination, a cut into a local reality –as a hologram of the overall reality– which allowed us to understand the discourses and practices produced on the stage of a social movement such as the Plaza del Carmen Assembly, and their interdependence with sociopolitical experiences of citizenship built and located in other geographical and virtual areas.
Although the results of this case study will also be presented through computer technology, using only the images collected, the account presented here marks an underlying narrative structure with which to interpret the case: a chronological, evolving sequence, in which to emphasize the educational and communicative milestones that guarantee the results.
The massive response to the call for the demonstration on 15 May 2011 led by Democracia Real Ya (Real Democracy Now) was unexpected in every city, and even more so in Granada, a city where more than 5,000 people gathered1. Equally unexpected was the initiative of a group of young people who decided to continue the political protest in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square but were violently evicted by police that same morning, prompting the emergence of camps by activists all across the country as show of support and solidarity with their comrades in Madrid.
After the first night of the solidarity camp in Granada and parallel to this event, activists used social networks and personal networks to convene the first «citizens’ assembly» on May 17 at Granada’s Paseo del Salón boulevard, bringing together around 100 people. The result of this first meeting was to achieve one of the key consensuses on forming a movement in Granada: the decision to camp in Plaza del Carmen (where the City Hall is located) in order to create a permanent workspace that would allow the movement to organize. Simultaneously and in a similar way the #GranadaCamp virtual space was born, which would interact in a continuous process with the dynamics of the square.
In this emerging movement, the early stages were key to the implementation of dynamic interaction and an organizational base that would be the seed for all subsequent activity. These principles were adopted from the first assembly and referred to the following aspects: horizontality, turnover, involvement of everyone, listening to the views with special attention to minority opinions, consensus. The assembly also consolidated the core ideology of the General Open Plaza del Carmen Assembly in the minimum consensus, constituting it as openly nonunion, nonpartisan, nondenominational, pacifist, creative, open, and collectively responsible2. The camp, as a political tool in the service of the Assembly, was a process of selforganization within which working groups emerged from perceived needs: a logistics group and a legal group, a proposals group and a group for spreading the movement (in schools, neighbourhoods and villages), a mediaattention group and, subsequently, groups for action, debate and reflection, with the responsibilities of the General Assembly decentralizing through the growing autonomy and the birth of neighbourhood assemblies and towns and university faculties with their own working groups.
Camp and assembly faced critical moments throughout their development: the meeting of the 15M demonstration with the procession of the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Rosary, the eviction of the camp on the night of May 17, the spatiotemporal coincidence of the General Assembly with the convening of an act of an Andalusian Association. Moreover, the camps were declared illegal by the Central Electoral Board for the municipal elections of May 22, the police evicted the Occupied Social Centre Indiskreta, a logistical partner in the movement, and local football fans celebrated the rise of FC Granada to first division football as well as the results of other football matches. These potential conflicts were resolved by opting for debate, dialogue and respect for other organizations and citizen groups, sharing spaces, and activists opted for peaceful civil disobedience against administrative decisions: «What is right can never be illegal and we decided to skip legality in order to do honour to justice» (informative leaflets of the June 19 demonstration).
Three critical axes became central in the assembly, materialized in a crisis of representation thereof: a) the political class; b) banks and banking: «We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers»; and c) the mass media: «Someone named the banks as enemy number one, I want to name the media; I propose the creation of a subgroup to be responsible for countering all the mass media’s misinformation» (General Assembly, May 21). Faced with the apparent rejection of a political class wearing red high heels, print dresses in electric blue and grapefruit green, the movement proposed that politics should be constructed by all people, going beyond the walls of the city council and flooding the daily interaction of everyday life. Attitudes of rejection towards politics, due to its association with maligned institutional policies, were shifting towards an alternative process of political construction, moving from an apolitical vision towards a defence of nonpartisanship. With this move towards a reconceptualization of politics in its broadest and most unlimited sense, the dichotomy between political struggles and social struggles is overcome: the social is political, and politics is social.
In this sense, the assembly approaches politics from a local perspective (at both the municipal and national levels), focusing on what the movement considers its true range of action, postponing proposals of a global order (European or international). At the meeting of May 21 an agreement was reached on some measures and urgent demands, in an attempt to bring together the full range of proposals (about 600) that citizens had developed in the days before: the repeal of labour reform and of pensionlaw reform, the real right to decent housing, the guaranteed provision for social services and needs, the repeal of the Civic Ordinance of Granada.
One voice emerges regarding the relationship with politicians and bankers: «We will not pay for your crisis»; «There is not enough bread for so much ‘chorizo’» (a word meaning both «sausage» and «criminal»); «There’s not a lack of money but an excess of thieves». The political, social and economic climate is criticized, denouncing both the supremacy of the influence of the market (an identifiable market, not just an invisible hand) over public policy –«Why should the market rule if I never voted for it?»– as well as a «political caste» serving not only the market but also corruption –«In the next elections vote for Ali Baba– he’s only got 40 thieves».
Relations with the media, marked by the rejection of media manipulation by large corporations that control the current media –«telelie», «massmanipulation media»– were characterized by activists’ sensitivity to information about the movement that was published in the press, and thus by constant vigilance in order to refute or criticize the information if necessary. Thus, the press of every political viewpoint was examined – proof of which was the information table which every morning held one copy of each newspaper.
What the local newspapers «Ideal» and «Granada Hoy» interpreted from Granada Camp’s messages is revealed in a selection of articles that focus quantitatively on incidents and show a tendency to give a sensationalistic emphasis to events surrounding concrete actions (the police «evicted» activists from the square when actually they were just moved fifty meters away, the police evicted the «squatters» of Indiskreta, a small group aiding with camp logistics). Faced with these situations a decision was made to disclose «statements or press releases» generated by the assembly, adopted by consensus and published on the website acampadagranada.org, in an effort to ensure that the voice of the assembly regarding these and other incidents would not be distorted. The aim was to report and inform the members of the assembly and the general public; however, most of these notes were motivated by the contamination of the news produced by ??the most conservative national media and, to a lesser extent, by the contamination by national media groups of the local media.
Likewise, faced with this distrust of the traditional media, the assembly created their own alternative media in an attempt to take control of the media coverage and not to be reinterpreted: the newspaper «Agora» and GranadaTV livestreaming come into being, as well as a dedicated radio space within the community project Radio Pluto. And, especially, a large deployment of citizen journalism channelled through various social networks. This is how they answer: «We are not savages, we’re not lazy, we are not members of any nostalgia club, we are not a caste» (Press release May 26: A week of outrage: what we are not).
Although the presence of young people between 20 and 35 years old is what stood out, the movement valued the richness offered by the learning exchange between generations, with their discussions and alliances in political and community affairs. Men and women who participated in the social protests of the 70s together with young daughters and sons of democracy – «We are the children of comfort, but we will not be the parents of conformism».
Within this plurality should be noted the large presence of the middle class, which in a society increasingly polarized between lower class and upper class, is undergoing a process of class downgrading. Generations see how their expectations fail to be met; job insecurity and job scarcity prevents many workers from reaching positions commensurate with their training; the purchase of a home is becoming a more distant possibility, and lost purchasing power puts the pressure on families – «I have month left over at the end of my salary».
The youth took advantage of their visibility and prominence to recover from the maligned image that they had been experiencing in the media. They answered prejudices such as:
• The «nini generation»: the «neithernor» generation. Neither do I inquire, nor do I care; neither PP (Popular Party) nor PSOE (Socialist Party); no home, no work; no pension, no fear.
• «Apathetic youth»: disconnected from political life, apathy is cured with rebellion (sign at the Plaza del Carmen);
• Prejudices associated with a particular «perroflauta» (flutedog) aesthetic: I’m a «perroflauta». So what? I’m a citizen too!; I’m a «perroflauta» because the crisis has made me one... (sign at the ceremony of investiture of the mayor of Granada).
The abundant profile of student and unemployed university graduate has made visible the presence of a generation with a rich political and cultural capital but no space in the labour market. This was one of the expressions of outrage from what is possibly the most educated generation in history in the poorest working conditions in relation to their level of education – «Shall I clean your car with my college degree?». We cannot forget the growing unrest that had already begun to emerge in this group before the 15M dissatisfaction because of the neoliberal policies of the university.
We are presented with a need for political pedagogy, and education reappears as a political project in which decisions are made as part of the collective construction of knowledge that goes beyond the mere transmission of selected, apparently aseptic curricula.
In this open «school» of citizenship, with an emerging curriculum, there is negotiation and (re)construction of concepts such as social justice, legality, ethics, violence (physical, symbolic and economic –earning 600 euros a month is a form of violence), freedom, rights and duties of citizenship, and popular sovereignty– making use of not just physical but virtual settings to carry this all out. A «school without walls» or «connected school» in which young people learn through hypertextual, multisituated language, and in which multiple and nonlinear channels (re)construct meaning through digital and facetoface interactivity; meanings that emerge from the crucible of heterogeneities found in the Plaza del Carmen and «virtual spaces» of #GranadaCamp.
They argue that pedagogical meaning lies in the horizontality of relationships, the complex rather than oversimplified treatment of problems, the recognition of being active and historical subjects, the proposed internal and personal revolution along with the collective and social one, the consideration of the importance and of the slow pace of new learning, the admission of dreams and utopia as an active reference point, the support from networks and new technologies that allow greater protagonism, the respect for minorities and consideration of their views, the transgression of the conventional, the respect for legality and the reinterpretation of its principles and laws, the critical attitude towards the role of political and economic subjects and their media. The law should conform to ethics, not the other way around, which is what seems to be happening. In this scenario Touraine’s words (2009: 246) make sense: After centuries of conquest of the world by reason, technology and weapons, we have entered a place where all roads lead to ourselves, towards this personal construction dedicated mainly to bringing back together that which a certain rationalism had dissociated and opposed.
This proposed learning advocates the need to develop a political culture based on the awareness and knowledge of the current situation, learning that is not based solely on naïve good intentions but one that requires content and theoretical debate on sociopolitical and economic conditions. The assemblies, thought cycles, the group of theoretical debate, the school of philosophy –among many other groups– posters and signs, links to documentaries on various subjects, but mostly the daily, informal exchange –virtual as well as in person– constitute a new form of network transmission and horizontal construction of a collective political knowledge.
Social networks, not exempt from corporate and business interests that are not forgotten in the thoughts and considerations of the assembly, are presented as paradoxical tools that become simultaneously inclusive and exclusive: inclusive as they allow the participation of those who dare not to speak because of the strong social pressure to speak in public, and of all those who do not have the time to personally attend all the events in the square; and exclusive inasmuch as the great divides in digital access and network usage continue to persist. This process of technological literacy is seen as a learning process required in the long run in order to achieve the opportunities offered by a (utopian?) edemocracy (Levy, 2004).
The idea of the Internet as public space is reflected in the virtual social networks which become multiple and often simultaneous communication channels, through which different contents are transmitted with communicative/activist purposes that are also varied and different: the blogs (blogspot and its further development, tomalacalle.org) and the actual construction of the virtual image of the movement, the virtual collective identity; YouTube for spreading the movement through the dissemination of videos of calls to action and of previous actions; immediate microblogging and the use of hyperlinks to theoretical references and complex thought on Twitter (denouncement of the general situation or specific aspects of it, calls for popular demonstrations, spreading of slogans, actual policy proposals, technical proposals to help resolve the conflict, etc.); Facebook posts, less immediate than tweets, and discussions ranging from political issues to issues of political life at the square (especially in the critical moments: assembly moderation by the anticapitalist left’s candidate for mayor and the eviction of the Indiskreta CSO); Wikipedia for the creation of a sociopolitical truth of the movement through crowdsourcing including the perspectives not only of the actual participants but others outside the movement. And the failed attempt of n1, a free software platform whose philosophy matches that of the movement, for the «media elite» which demonstrated the need for technological literacy, banishing the myth of the Net Generation.
The use of ICTs in #GranadaCamp has accompanied the various proposals in an attempt to multiply the capacity of the social movement itself, a task which has required constant exploration of new media or devices, some of which have been met with a lack of proper skills and even with time restraints or technical connection difficulties. Moreover, spontaneous access and the role played by social networking has emphasized the support and involvement of certain sectors, hindering participation by others and channelling proposals and political speeches that defended the experimentation of the civic agency itself, which would have required a more democratic use of ICTs.
The features of educational demands and slogans in public assemblies correspond to the characteristics of the growth of civic cultures, because the movement produces support for schools and universities as physical communication spaces, and the desire increases for a virtual public sphere, as evidenced by the creation of multiple hashtags whose contents supported a redefining of democracy, the discovery of renewed ways to experience the ethos, and a new education as a political process, characterized by reliance on collective participation and the production of shared knowledge.
A rather idealistic perspective of the educational model has been taken which has not allowed a deepening in educational processes understood as a setting for competing interests, for power struggles ranging from interest in social change to interest in the reproduction of the status quo in society, and the tension between salvation school and meritocracy school (MartinCriado, 2010). However, such analysis occurred more naturally upon assessing the role of the traditional media that the camp activists monitored particularly closely. In short, there was an uneven, heterogeneous collective attitude towards the use of the media.
The majority use of commercial social networking for activist purposes has shown, in this case, that it is not possible for designers to predict the uses that the public will end up lending to certain commercial spaces. Without losing sight of the economic interests of such networks one cannot belittle the ability of citizens to use them in a creative and fruitful way (Sádaba & Gordo, 2008) despite the adoption of the SindeWert law, which prompted the emergence of #nolesvotes (#dontvoteforthem) – or repeated attempts to cut the town hall’s WIFI network, comtrend, used by camp activists, who demanded access to it, changing its name to «vivalarevolución» (longlivetherevolution).
Regarding the development of the assembly and the profile of its components, there was clearly a melting pot of heterogeneities that overwhelms the theory of the «two souls» advocated by Taibo (2011), which allows for the presence of both «activists of previous social movements» and of «angry youths». In this case, it has been verified that the ideological and discursive varieties go beyond this double vision, and it is precisely this plurality which can create the controversy that will advance the movement toward deliberation and occasionally complicated consensusbuilding. Moreover, the assemblies’ condition of presentiality and the situated nature of the camp have produced uneven effects on the possibilities of certain social sectors’ participating. The insistent proposal to use ICTs has connected predisposed sectors with the professional, domestic and geographical conditions to get involved, and the time to do so. Issues such as the legitimacy and authority of Governments and public institutions have also been questioned and revised: some laws have been respected while others have been challenged based on a concept of social justice as priority. Precisely along these same lines, Guttman (2001) reflects on democratic education, considering that to achieve the democratic ideal of sharing political sovereignty it is not only necessary to behave in accordance with authority but also to learn to think critically about it. And precisely in this quest for autonomy, squares, schools and virtual public spaces are privileged places for deliberation and consensusbuilding, places conducive to becoming open spaces in which to develop political agency and experience citizenship.
The concepts of democracy, citizenship, education, information, communication and dominant political discourse have been questioned by «los indignados» (the outraged), who propose expansion and extension in the practice of these concepts in order to reconstruct, in a more public way, educational vision and renewed politics in accordance with modern society and its information and communication possibilities. In a sense, their discourse points out some common assumptions aimed at politics of everyday relationships, and not just major decisions; moving towards lifestyle politics (Bennet, 1998) which extends the space of the speakable and amends formal conditions of participation (MorenoPestaña, 2011), towards politics where the division between public and private vanishes, in line with an interconnected world that develops offline and online, which combines actions here and now in a present time that cannot wait on deliberative processes that are by necessity slow and meditated in the immediacy of postmodernism, politics capable of showing deep and informed indignation through creative actions, and which uses ironic language, in a humorous light, as a way to caricaturize nonsense while at the same time expressing deep meanings.
And precisely in this imperfect search of autonomy, having analyzed the experience of the camp activists in this case, we can say that squares, schools and digital settings appear as privileged places for deliberation and consensus building among youth; along with the digital public space, open spaces have been identified to rehearse political agency, experience democracy, learn to think independently in the face of controversial decisions; to communicate, to dissent from the authority, and build a new model of shared collective learning.
Proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación y aprobado en la convocatoria de 2010 para la realización de Proyectos de Investigación Fundamental no orientada, «La ciudadanía en los nuevos escenarios digitales y escolares: relaciones e implicaciones en el alumnado de la Educación Secundaria Obligatoria».
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