Social protest and stages of moral development: An analytical proposal for the study of social mobilization in the 21st century

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© 2018 Universidad de La Sabana. All rights reserved. Different studies on democracy and political disaffection are of the belief that the internet and social networks provide new opportunities for social mobilization and citizen participation. The social mobilizations of the second decade of the 21st century, such as the Arab Spring or the 15M in Spain, defined the protagonist role of online communication and social networks for the summon and the development of protests. This paper, which uses the stages of moral development and applies them to social reality, provides a theoretical proposal for a three-dimensional analysis (introducing the concepts of strategy, action, and objective) to study contemporary social mobilizations. It also presents and compares the three analytical dimensions and uses them to characterize, in an exploratory manner, three cases of social mobilization (the Arab Spring in Egypt, the 15M, and the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages in Spain). In the text, the use of social networks and the media is a transverse study based on the three dimensions proposed. The analysis shows that some forms of protest have declined to the feelings of political frustration of citizens, and they have been displaced to a second institutional level or suffered a systematic disarticulation. We propose the conceptualization of the contemporary social movement as a collective space built on a strategy aimed at a specific political system that performs change actions focused on autonomy processes and sets out long-term objectives that have been agreed upon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-498
JournalPalabra Clave
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Citizenship
  • Democracy
  • Emotion
  • Moral stage (Source: Unesco Thesaurus)
  • Participation
  • Social movements
  • Social networks


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