dialogical diffusion from Spanish indignados to Occupy Wall Street

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Sep 21, 2011 - Immigrants as brokers: dialogical diffusion from Spanish ... the indignados movement in Occupy Wall Street (OWS). ... Downloaded by [Eduardo Romanos] at 02:42 16 November 2015 .... relating groups and individuals to one another in stable sites, but it ... Up to that day, the camp was the epicentre of a.

Social Movement Studies, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14742837.2015.1095084

Immigrants as brokers: dialogical diffusion from Spanish indignados to Occupy Wall Street Eduardo Romanos Department of Sociology I (Social Change), Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

ARTICLE HISTORY

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ABSTRACT

This article analyses the role played by Spanish immigrants in the diffusion of the indignados movement in Occupy Wall Street (OWS). I argue that Spanish residents in New York City acted as brokers between the two movements, and that their behaviour had a significant impact on OWS’s understanding of itself as an expansive, inclusive and empathic phenomenon. Building on recent theoretical developments, which stress the importance of dialogue and collective learning in the transnational diffusion of historical social movements, this research produces results at different levels. At the empirical level, the problems faced by the immigrants reveal the cultural complexity of transnational diffusion within the recent wave of contention. At the analytical level, the personal contact and intergroup dialogue established between immigrants and local activists challenge accounts stressing the role of social media and the internet within the transnational diffusion of this protest. At the theoretical level, the article develops a process-oriented perspective on brokerage, improving our understanding of its implications concerning diffusion. I argue that a longitudinal analysis of brokerage shows how interaction can modify role identity and movement diffusion: diffusion develops where brokers maintain a coordinating role in the movement, and ceases to do so where brokers are displaced from this central position.

Received 24 October 2014 Accepted 14 September 2015 KEYWORDS

Social movements; diffusion; brokerage; dialogue; immigrants; collective learning

Introduction The year 2011 witnessed the proliferation of intense social protests in many parts of the globe. Analysts have interpreted the development of some of these protests in terms of a contentious transnational wave moving from North Africa and the Middle East to Southern Europe, the US and beyond (della Porta, 2015; Flesher Fominaya, 2014; Tejerina, Perugorría, Benski, & Langman, 2013). Observers and participants both agree that some protests have had an influence on the development of contentious phenomena in other countries and continents within this wave (Castañeda, 2012; Castells, 2012; della Porta & Mattoni, 2014; Flesher Fominaya, 2014; Gerbaudo, 2013; Glasius & Pleyers, 2013; Kerton, 2012; Kroll, 2011; Schiffrin & Kircher-Allen, 2012). However, while this influence has been acknowledged, empirical analyses which inquire into the dynamics of this process seem to be lacking. This article aims at helping to fill this gap by analysing a particular instance of diffusion between two movements that emerged within the recent transnational wave of contention. These movements are the Spanish indignados (also known as the ‘15M movement’) and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in the USA. Beyond

CONTACT  Eduardo Romanos  © 2015 Taylor & Francis

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the substantive fact of diffusion, I am interested in how this process took place and, specifically, in the role played by Spanish immigrants in the emergence of OWS. I will argue that Spanish residents in New York City acted as brokers between 15M and OWS, and that their behaviour had a significant impact on OWS’s self-understanding as an expansive, inclusive and emphatic mobilization. Social movement scholars have long moved away from those lines of analysis which understood diffusion as a product of either contagion, unreflexive imitation or utility-maximizing rational choice towards new approaches ‘that see adopters and rejecters of innovations as active participants (both individual and groups) engaged in meaningful social interaction’ (Wood, 2012, p. 8). Further theoretical refinement has resulted in the development of different models. Recently, Chabot (2010, 2012) has created a dialogue-based model which criticizes more structural frameworks that regard transnational diffusion as the conveyance of information between transmitters and receivers (Tarrow, 2005). Chabot’s dialogical framework relies on four interrelated and reinforcing forms of communication: awareness in potential receivers of the tactics or repertoires used by contentious actors in other countries; translation (or dislocation) of this knowledge into familiar terms; experimentation (or relocation) of the foreign tactics or repertoires in the new social context; and movement application, which involves the expansion and identification of collective action. At any rate, transnational diffusion is not a linear process in which one stage follows the previous one automatically, but a process of collective learning with ‘numerous twists and turns, ups and downs’ (Chabot, 2012, p. 8). For example, the awareness of innovation is not lacking in stereotypes of ‘hyper-difference’ and ‘over-likeness’ that potential adopters of foreign tactics or repertoires must overcome to be capable of collective learning and creative reinvention rather than just superficial imitation (Chabot, 2012). Under these conditions, transnational diffusion becomes a rare and difficult phenomenon, but not an impossible one; it demands the activists’ involvement ‘in genuine dialogue with experienced practitioners, so they can gain insights from applications in the original social context and start imagining whether – and if so, how – this foreign tactic or repertoire might work in their own social contexts’ (Chabot, 2010, p. 106). Chabot builds his dialogical model on a specific example: the transnational diffusion of the Gandhian repertoire between the Indian independence movement and the civil rights movement in the US. In this article, I build on this dialogical model by focusing on the key role of brokerage within it. I do so through the analysis of the role played by Spanish immigrants and local activists in the diffusion from 15M to OWS. Further, I argue that this mechanism of face-to-face brokerage remains central even in the current period, where conditions of exchange operate at a much quicker pace than the one studied by Chabot. Today, means of transport and communication are much faster and more accessible; in the digital era, social relations are strongly mediatized by new technologies, also with regard to social dissent (Bennett & Segerberg, 2013; Carty, 2010; Castells, 2012; Earl & Kimport, 2011; González-Bailón, Borge-Holthoefer, Rivero, & Moreno, 2011). When it comes to diffusion processes, some scholars suggest that ‘the presence of social-media platforms seems to become pervasive’ (della Porta & Mattoni, 2014, p. 283), while the relevance of personal contacts and exchanges out of the digital realm conversely decreases. This article questions this assumption to show that face-toface contact between activists from different countries is still an important channel of transnational diffusion between social movements. I will argue that along with social media and websites acting as ‘cyber-brokers’ (Vasi & Suh, 2012), other brokers in the form of transnational actors established intergroup dialogue with local activists that facilitate the diffusion of particularly complex innovations related to the organization of social movements and the development of collective action repertoires. While Chabot’s analysis focuses on the target community – the way this community perceives and responds to innovation – I bring further conceptual clarity to the dialogical model of diffusion by paying attention to the role of brokers, and the evolution of their role over time. Indeed, I argue here that Spanish immigrants made use of brokerage tools in the diffusion of 15M to OWS, thus creating new communication and exchange channels between both movements. Brokerage is central to a broad array of social phenomena (Obstfeld, Borgatti, & Davis, 2014), including social movements (Diani, 2013). Scholars have analysed the role of brokers in social movements in relation to a number of issues, from recruitment to power dynamics and from diffusion processes to coalition building (Bulow, 2011;

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Krinsky & Crossley, 2014; Vasi, 2011). In recent years, the concept of brokerage has gained renewed popularity ‘as part of a broader discussion about mechanisms and processes in explanations about contentious politics’ (Bulow, 2011, p. 166), encouraged by the Dynamics of Contention programme. The promoters of this programme understand that brokerage is a crucial mechanism,

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relating groups and individuals to one another in stable sites, but it can also become a relational mechanism for mobilization during periods of contentious politics, as new groups are thrown together by increased interaction and uncertainty, thus discovering their common interests. (McAdam, Tarrow, & Tilly, 2001, p. 26)

The participation of brokers lowers the cost of communication and coordination between hitherto unconnected groups, networks and social movements (Tilly & Tarrow, 2015). Following Marsden (1982), other authors have questioned this non-tie precondition; the parts being brokered can have a history of previous contact and, in fact, this is often the case (Bulow, 2011; Diani, 2013; Mische, 2008). The role of the brokers is to steer and facilitate interaction between both parts (Obstfeld et al., 2014). However, brokerage is not homogeneous, but different types or roles can be distinguished (Gould & Fernandez, 1989). The longitudinal analysis offered here of the various brokerage roles played by Spanish immigrants in OWS aims to contribute to a more processual approach to this mechanism (Obstfeld et al., 2014). At the same time, the analysis of the diffusion work undertaken by immigrants, and the cultural problems they faced in the process, investigates the complex cultural dynamics of social movement diffusion, advancing a more nuanced understanding of this phenomenon. Before going into detail on the diffusion from 15M to OWS, I will briefly introduce the emergence of these movements and the research design.

Protest camps in Puerta del Sol and Zuccotti Park On 15 May 2011, over 50 protest marches drew together tens of thousands of people from all over Spain. These marches had been convened by the Democracia Real Ya [Real Democracy Now] digital platform under the slogan ‘We are not products in the hands of politicians and bankers’, and they took place a week before the municipal and regional elections were held. Protesters criticized the quality of the Spanish democratic system, demanding more, and more efficient, political participation and deliberation channels. These demands were also related to the degree of control that economic structures exercise over political decision-making. The activists identified austerity policies with the absence of democracy and sovereignty. Corruption was regarded as the product of a democratic system whose control mechanisms are weak and of a political system that has encouraged the enrichment of political and economic elites to the detriment of the living conditions of the majority. In Madrid, some of the protesters decided to continue with the march, blocking traffic in the centre of the city with a sit-down protest. After confrontations with the police, a situation which led to some arrests, a group of about 40 people remained at the Puerta del Sol square in order to, among other reasons, ‘support the detainees and continue with the demonstrations’. This meeting soon turned into an assembly ‘with the main idea of creating and maintaining a permanent camp’. Thus acampadasol was born, which general form replicated the camp organized in early January by Egyptian protesters in Tahrir square, Cairo, within the so-called Arab Spring (Patel, 2013). The camp in Madrid grew around various committees that worked on the maintenance of the camp and the logistics of the assembly process, as well as several working groups which were concerned with generating discourse for the articulation of the emerging protest movement. In the afternoons, committees and working groups participated in a general assembly that was open to everyone. The support received by the movement grew on the internet and at the square. The #spanishrevolution became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, while more and more people turned up at the ‘mini-republic’ that had been established at the Puerta de Sol (Elola, 2011). The website tomalaplaza.net gathered information on what was happening in the square and at other locations where protestors had gathered, including those organized by Spanish emigrants abroad. Groups, committees and assemblies developed an alternative notion of democracy in the square, the so-called empowered deliberative democracy model (see della Porta, 2005). Experimentation with the model brought about a relatively

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novel concept of organizational inclusiveness directed at potential participants and the transformation of public spaces into open, empathic arenas (see below). The Provincial Electoral Committee of Madrid banned protests one day before election day, during the so-called jornada de reflexión [day of reflection], but some 25,000 people challenged this decision at Puerta del Sol in what was an act of civil disobedience, the impact and size of which had no precedent in recent Spanish history (Romanos, 2013a). The camp broke up on 12 June after long internal discussions and strong pressure from the authorities. Up to that day, the camp was the epicentre of a protest movement, the so-called indignados, which remained active and visible later on, becoming a relatively important actor in the domestic social and political scene. Four days after the indignados dismantled the camp in Madrid, a group of New Yorkers set up their own camp opposite the City Hall to protest against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget cuts and policies of austerity. The so-called Bloombergville lasted for three weeks and was dismantled after the city council approved a modified budget (Writers for the 99%, 2011). On 31 July, some of the campers attended a meeting which called ‘For General Assemblies in Every Part of the World’ at 16 Beaver Street, an ‘artivist space’ near Wall Street, where Spaniards, Greeks, Egyptians and other immigrants gathered to talk about the protest movements in their countries of origin and how to bring the wave to that side of the Atlantic. Some of those present on August 2 went to Bowling Green Park – the Charging Bull square – in lower Manhattan, where a traditional protest rally turned into an assembly meeting. Thereafter, subsequent meetings occurred every Saturday afternoons at Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, under the label ‘New York City General Assembly’ (NYCGA) (Kroll, 2011). By that time, Adbusters had already put out a call to fill lower Manhattan with ‘tents, kitchens, [and] peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months’ on 17 September 2011. That day between 1000 and 5000 demonstrators marched to the business district in New York; this was a protest that ended with some of them setting up camp in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street. The camp recalled Tahrir and Puerta del Sol, albeit on a smaller scale. In Zuccotti Park, a ‘people’s assembly’ gathered daily with the help of those who had participated in the NYCGA. Protesters made use of a powerful slogan – ‘We are the 99 Percent’ – but they received broad media attention when the social networks started showing videos of the brutal and disproportionate police action (Greenberg, 2012). Meanwhile, occupations spread to other parts of the country (Vasi & Suh, 2012). On October 15, the Occupy movement joined the massive Global Day of Action, a transnational protest event originally convened by the Spanish indignados. One month later, the police expelled the Zuccotti Park campers. Thereafter, OWS continued its activities on social networks and in the groups that had been created inside and outside the limits of the square (Ogman, 2013). Months before the emergence of OWS, Spanish immigrants created an activist network in New York City. On 21 May 2011, several dozen Spaniards set up a protest in Washington Square and linked their demonstration with those taking place on the same day in Madrid and other Spanish cities. The protest was launched by a Facebook group under the name Democracia Real Ya – New York, which was created following the success of the demonstrations on 15 May in Spain. Around 60 of the group’s members met in person for the first time in a room at Columbia University on 19 May. The location selected is not coincidental, since most of the Spaniards who were later to get involved in OWS had some connection – as students, researchers or lecturers – with university (Lawrence, 2013a). However, two groups, with different perspectives, perceptions and targets, soon emerged in the Columbia meeting. Some were simply sojourners (Waldinger, 2008) and were planning to return to Spain after a brief stay in NYC. Basically, they interpreted the protest movement in Spain solely in relation to domestic social and political problems; their protest was staged as an act of solidarity with the ongoing demonstrations in Spain. The other group was made up of people who planned to stay in NYC for longer, or even to stay there permanently. They saw the protests which were taking place in the Spanish squares as part of a wider contentious wave that was related to global problems, and thus they wanted to extend the protests to their host country. After a while, members of the latter group became involved in the emerging OWS. This article focuses on these activists and their role in the diffusion of 15M in OWS.

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Data and method The data analysed in this article include documents, mailing lists, websites and 20 semi-structured, face-to-face, individual interviews with key informants from the OWS movement. In key informant interviewing, scholars select interviewees for their ability to illuminate particular aspects of social movement dynamics (Blee, 2013). In this research, key informants are activists who participated in the diffusion process under review. On the other hand, semi-structured interviews help to ‘bring human agency to the center of movement analysis’ (Blee & Taylor, 2002, p. 96; italics in the original). Given that agency has been under-researched in previous scholarship on social movement diffusion (Chabot, 2010; Givan, Roberts, & Soule, 2010, p. 3), this method seems especially suited to shed new light on this phenomenon. Interviews were conducted in New York City between September and October 2012. Thirteen of the interviewees were men and seven were women. Regarding nationality, 11 of the interviewees were from the United States, 7 were from Spain and 2 from other countries (Greece and Uruguay). The interviews solicited organizational information and the interviewee’s interpretation of movement processes, including diffusion.

Spanish immigrants in OWS Initially, Spanish immigrants focused their efforts on connecting with local activists. They organized a public talk at Bluestockings, a radical bookstore and activist centre on the Lower East Side, to explain what was going on in Spain, the economic, political and social context of the protest and the Spanish tradition of social movements. Spanish immigrants knew about the protests through conventional media, social networks and interpersonal communication with family and friends who were taking part in them. Some of them also travelled to Spain, where they had a brief chance to join the protests. By taking part in these contentious experiences, they acquired a knowledge that they later translated into their local context, while maintaining the ties with the people whom they had met at those same contentious actions (Tilly & Tarrow, 2015; Wood, 2012). The talk at Bluestockings was followed by a visit to Bloombergville. During the first night at the camp, the Spaniards talked to the activists, some of whom received the information about the camps in Spain with a mixture of ‘incredulity, ignorance and also some degree of enthusiasm’ (Interview with Luis Moreno-Caballud, 36 years old, assistant professor of Spanish literature and cultural studies; 6 October 2012, New York).1 Apparently, there was more receptivity at the meeting at 16 Beaver Street. A certain degree of common ground was established there, especially with New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts activists. Once the first links had been established, Spanish immigrants joined local and foreign activists in the organization of the NYCGA, which set the stage for the emergence of OWS (Graeber, 2011; Kroll, 2011). The NYCGA regularly brought together 50 or 60 people, about half of whom were from countries other than the United States. The Spaniards often amounted to between 10% and 20% of the total attendees. Most of them had postgraduate academic education and no previous experience in social movements (Lawrence, 2013a). The favourable perception of the Spaniards among local (and also foreign) activists, among which they were seen as the representatives of a successful movement, eased their diffusion work (Koopmans, 2004). For OWS activists, the Spanish movement became a ‘model of what we could do’ (Interview with Justin Wedes, 26, educator; 6 October 2012, New York). Spanish immigrants, and in general everything that came from Spain, were highly reputed among local activists. According to Max Berger (26, organizer), ‘It kind of bopped around in terms of which was like the coolest international movement. But Spain was always at or near the top in terms of what was given legitimacy by folks’ (Interview, 9 October 2012, New York). According to the different kinds of brokerage roles established by Gould and Fernandez (1989) with regard to the position of brokers among interconnected subgroups (Figure 1), the involvement of the Spaniards in the contentious action carried out by those who had previously been the object of their brokerage changed the Spaniards’ role. From being the ‘representatives’ of 15M in the local context, they became the ‘coordinators’ of an emerging collective action in the form of a transnational

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Figure 1. Brokerage roles (Gould & Fernandez, 1989) as reproduced in Krinsky and Crossley (2014, p. 11).

mobilization in which initiators, mediators and receptors came together. Although local activists regarded the indignados as a ‘model’ to be followed, the intention of the Spanish activists was not to ‘import [such] a model’ but to become involved in the ‘local [mobilization] process’. They felt that some of the demands of the Spanish movement were ‘translatable’ and decided to take active part in the assemblies in order to contribute to their diffusion in the local context (Interviews with Vicente Rubio, 32, Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Languages and Literature, and with Ángel Luis Lara, 40, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology; 26 and 27 September 2012, respectively, New York). Their participation was not entirely unproblematic. For example, activists tried to stifle the excessive role of political identity and aesthetics in the new movement, which in their opinion situated it ‘in the antipodes of the 15M’. Indeed, the attraction of the Spanish movement rested on its ‘post-identity nature’, the origin of which was linked by some with the Zapatistas, who broke with an identity-based tradition of political action, turning ‘the other’ and the relationship with ‘the other’, respect, empathy and learning, into the keystones of political action. (Interview with Lara)2

Spanish immigrants did not reject identities in the 15M, but in their opinion, these identities were not determinant in the ‘construction of a common project and a common space [whereas] here [in New York] a sort of visa was demanded for participation [in a space in which] the key subjects were not ‘anyone’, but were themselves activists’ (Interview with Lara).3 The strategy implemented in order to overcome this problem was to emphasize ‘problems shared’ by all participants, regardless of their ideology.

The content of diffusion: a novel concept of inclusiveness The diffusion work undertaken by Spanish immigrants in NYC focused on developing the inclusiveness of the indignados movement in the events and networks which they were helping to create in the United States. Inclusiveness is a fundamental value in the indignados movement, but it is hardly new in the field of social movements. Organizational inclusiveness was already typical in post-1968 movements, particularly the women’s movement (Mansbridge, 1986). della Porta (2005) notes that global justice movement activists adopted this principle even more strongly in the late 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century. It soon became one of the basic features of the empowered deliberative democracy model that these activists practiced, ‘whose principles are equality, inclusiveness, transparency, a quality communicative process and the transformation of individual preferences for the common good’ (della Porta, 2005). Inclusiveness refers here to the promotion of the inclusion of all participants, in all their diversity, in the decision-making processes within this ‘movement of movements’. To this end, mechanisms, such as the general assembly, are established in which each participant can express their opinions.4 The indignados movement basically adopted the empowered deliberative democracy model (Romanos, 2011). However, there are two aspects of inclusiveness which are somewhat new in this mobilization – aspects which, in turn, the Spanish immigrants helped to transmit to the US. First, the inclusiveness that the indignados promote is not targeted at those who are already part of the movement – in order to establish mechanisms that will ensure their inclusion in the decision-making process – but rather at potential participants. Here, the square plays an important role. One of the novel aspects of the 15M movement was the way it experimented with new models of democracy at the

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centre of a public space. In this way, the movement brought practices of deliberative democracy, which had been previously confined to more-or-less limited spaces such as social forums, social movement headquarters, peace camps and social centres, out into public squares, where passers-by were invited to join in. This seems to be an important difference from the practices of previous movements (Romanos, 2013a). As noted by Lawrence (2013a), the change of focus implies a change in movement orientation towards the ordinary people outside the assembly rather than on the activities of those internal to these gatherings. Lawrence himself (2013b, p. 9) witnessed how Spanish immigrants promoted this form of inclusiveness in the NYCGA:

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While some (not all) American activists expressed their anti-capitalist sentiments in academic, theoretical terms, the Spanish group was focused on reformulating and translating the ideas arising from the assembly in order to make them understandable for those outside the activist and academic community […] the conviction that the movement had to be formulated upon a wide enough basis as to let everyone in was one of the Spaniards’ principles in Occupy.

Second, inclusiveness in the indignados movement has to do with a less rational, more affective sense of inclusiveness – one that is not so much oriented to the decision-making process but rather to the transformation of public spaces into an arena which is also open to empathy. In August 2011, the indignados reflected upon the basic features of their movement in Spain, one of which was INCLUSIVENES. The power of this movement relies on the fact that we are many and that we are different […] The spaces that make us strong, that give us joy and make us powerful, are those which allow each one of us to feel it as their own.5

According to the Spanish immigrants in New York, this concept of inclusiveness, which we could call empathic inclusiveness, was lacking in the NYCGA. According to Moreno-Caballud, the assembly was more oriented to discussing strategic issues, which could have discouraged people with no previous participation in social movements to join. [In the NYCGA] we didn’t see the affective dimension that we had found in Spain, talking to someone who is having problems, who is feeling bad. So I decided to mention that in every assembly. If I spoke I would say, ‘We are not here just to talk things over, or to make plans, we are people with problems and our feelings are involved.’ I thought that was very important. Moreover, you always had the typical ego clashes. And I thought, we thought, that if that cozy feeling the 15 M had was lacking, if empathy was lacking, then we were not interested [in the movement]. (Interview)

Notwithstanding this, Spanish immigrants not only promoted the concept of inclusiveness of 15M in OWS via their participation in assemblies, they also pushed this idea forward by their contribution to the movement’s mobilizing frame.

The dialogical origin of the 99% mobilizing frame Some analysts have defined the ‘We Are the 99%’ slogan as ‘crowdsourced’ (Bennett & Segerberg, 2013, p. 149). The examination of the mailing list september 17, which was set up by the organizers of NYCGA, suggests a different interpretation. The mobilizing frame of the 99% did not emerge from the crowd, but was crafted by a specific group of activists, which included several Spaniards. Spanish immigrants played a decisive role in the transformation of the rhetoric of the 99 and the 1%, which was already familiar in the local context by the spring and summer of 2011, into a message with a large potential for mobilization (Gould-Wartofsky, 2015, p. 55). The first time that the idea of the 99% was used in OWS was on 4 August, in an email thread entitled ‘a SINGLE DEMAND for the occupation?’; this referred to the question ‘What is our one demand?’, which had been brought up by Adbusters in a famous poster disseminated on the internet in the previous month (Graeber, 2011). Those taking part in the thread were trying to attract new people to what was to become NYCGA. After an initial exchange of ideas, the participants reached a consensus: the movement ‘needed to be defined less by what it wanted than whom it wanted to participate’ (Lawrence, 2013a, p. 8; italics in the original). The Spanish participants stressed the need to unite ‘the economic and the political aspects of our problems in a very simple way, easy to understand’ as DRY had done in Spain with the slogan: ‘We are not

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Figure 2. Flyer, 5 August 2011. Available at http://2439-occupywallstcom.voxcdn.com/media/img/aug9_flyer.png.

products in the hands of politicians and bankers’.6 Other participants suggested making use of the beginning of the American constitution ‘We, the people’ and the idea of the 99%, which was inspired by a recent article by the economist Joseph Stiglitz (2011) on the increase of inequality in the United States. The incorporation of these references facilitated the translation of the ideas put forth by the brokers into familiar terms to local activists (Chabot, 2010). Spanish immigrants in NYC, who acted as ‘coordinators’ (Gould & Fernandez, 1989) or brokers involved in the local collective action, launched the following experimentation, i.e. the relocation of the innovation into the new local context (Chabot, 2010). The day after this online debate had taken place, they printed a flyer with the message: ‘We, the 99% call for an open assembly Aug 9th 7:30 pm at the Potato Famine Memorial NYC’ (Figure 2). The activist and blogger Chris gave it its final shape: ‘We are the 99%,’ which was used in a Tumblr page (Lawrence, 2013b; Weinstein, 2011). This page was instrumental in the final movement application (Chabot, 2010), that is to say, the expansion and intensification of the concept of inclusiveness put forth by Spanish immigrants. The 99% became a meme that went beyond the limits of the NYCGA, reaching public opinion and shoving a nationwide debate on the growth of inequality, which ultimately involved the political elites (Bennett & Segerberg, 2013; Weinstein, 2011). Over time, the ‘We are the 99%’ slogan turned into a global discursive symbol which was adopted by movements in other countries, including the Spanish indignados (Flesher Fominaya, 2014). On other occasions, the dialogical diffusion of inclusiveness was harder to maintain due to a common problem in this sort of process: the use of different languages by different actors (Chabot, 2010; Doerr, 2008; Tarrow, 2013; Wood, 2012). On 19 August 2011, the NYCGA outreach group, which the Spaniards had joined ‘with the idea that [this] should be a movement not just for activists but for everybody’ (Interview with Luis Moreno-Caballud), drafted a message aimed at attracting potential

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participants to the 17 September demonstration. The message used a somewhat Habermasian rhetoric and identified a social problem not so much in ‘the corporate domination of our economy and government’ but rather in the effects that domination had over ‘our lives and communities’. When it was read before the assembly, some activists, who had taken part in the social movements of the 1960s, criticized the use of what they regarded as hackneyed terms such as ‘empowerment’.7 Eventually the assembly decided that the proposal should be reformulated. Jeff Lawrence (28, Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature, who was a witness to this process), explained that the emotional speech of the Spaniards was quite groundbreaking but it was a translation from Spanish and hence the criticism. In his view, ‘[the American activists] basically rejected the language in that document but a large part of the message was included’ (Interview, 16 October 2012, New York). Dialogue between brokers and local activists resulted in a modified message that was finally adopted (Chabot, 2010, 2012). Once the message had been expressed in familiar, more adequate, terms, the local activists made it their own.

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Inclusiveness in movement After September 17, Spanish immigrants were again confronted with cultural problems in their diffusion work in OWS. Their less than perfect English made them uncomfortable with the ‘human microphone’ technique (aka the ‘people’s microphone’ or simply ‘mic-check’) used in the Zuccotti Park assemblies. For this reason, they chose to use other channels in order to disseminate the novelties developed by 15M, for example informal chats with ‘certain people who were members of other groups and could have a high impact’ (Interview with Rubio). During these conversations, the Spanish activists tried to reject the stereotypes of ‘over-likeness’ and ‘hyper-difference’ (Chabot, 2012) between OWS and 15M. Anarchists played a significant role in OWS (Bergfeld, 2015; Hammond, 2015), and there were many local activists who wrongly believed that this was also the case with 15M. Similarly, North American activists explained the different scale of the movement (which was much bigger in Spain than in the US) in terms of the stronger tradition of anarchism in Spain. In this sense, the Spanish detected a sort of idealization of Europe, or anything not American really, among left-wing American activists: any country has a better political culture than the US, and especially, a stronger left-wing. (Interview with Rubio)

From the start of their involvement, Spanish activists tried to dispel stereotypes by explaining the characteristics of 15M in its right social and political context, and also the Spanish tradition of social movements. Sometimes, they used, translated and distributed learning resources that had been explicitly created by the activists in Spain. The most important document in this regard was Cómo Cocinar una Revolución Noviolenta [How to Cook Up a Non-Violent Revolution], which explained in detail the internal organization of the movement (committees, working groups and general assemblies) and the process of decision-making at the square: ‘openly, democratically and horizontally’. It also included further information, for instance, about who the indignados were and why they were protesting, an organizational chart of acampadasol, and a series of links to videos designed to appeal to the viewer’s feelings, to create an ‘emotional connection’ with activists in other countries in order to facilitate future coordination with other mobilizations abroad (Interview with M.A., 29, member of WET – Acampadasol; 6 March 2012, Madrid). Spanish immigrants continued to promote 15M style openness at OWS through other initiatives, including the organization of a swift campaign to recover the original NYCGA mobilizing frame. Often, participants in social movements disagree on how they should portray grievances and solutions in order to resonate among specific audiences (Benford, 1993, 2013). Two days after the occupation of Zuccotti Park, Spanish immigrants voiced their concern that OWS was ‘just another activist movement’ doomed to disappear without a trace. In their opinion, ‘the ‘activist’ imaginary and language identified with it (example: the word ‘occupy’, the images of stereotypical activists used by Adbusters, etc.)’ had turned OWS into an excessively homogenous movement. If OWS aspired to become a mass movement, as the indignados in Spain, the references used must be more inclusive and targeted at a wider audience. In order to achieve this, the Spaniards made a call in the mailing list september 17 to turn Saturday 24 September into the #WeAreThe99% Day. The message was entitled ‘#OccupyWallStreet

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Figure 3. Flyer created by Adbusters, 21 September 2011. Provided by Begoña Santa-Cecilia.

stays alive by becoming #WeAreThe99%’, and it asked protesters to walk with signs and fliers with the slogan ‘We are the 99%’.8 Reactions in the mail list were enthusiastic and supportive. For this campaign, the Spaniards even recruited support from the promoters of the alternative occupying frame which they were criticizing. Members of Adbusters helped them in creating a new flyer aiming to clarify the discourse and the imaginary of the movement and to make it more attractive to ‘people who had never been involved in politics or activism’ (Figure 3).9

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Another initiative in a similar vein included the establishment of a series of desks in order to welcome and inform people about the activity which was taking place in Zuccotti Park. The idea of the welcome desks came from Begoña Santa-Cecilia (age unknown, artist), who had travelled to Madrid with Luis Moreno-Caballud in June and had seen the information stand at the camp in Puerta del Sol: If it weren’t for that information stand, we would have been clueless… We wouldn’t have known how we could help, what we could do … There was plenty of information and there were people there to inform you about what was going on in the city in relation to [the movement]. That was our idea. Information is what matters the most. ‘Welcome the people’ is the most important thing in the square. (Interview, 4 October 2012, New York)10

Isham Christie (27, Master’s student), an activist first in the NYCGA and later in OWS, noted how important the information stand set up by the Spaniards in Zuccotti Park was.

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It was right after we got really really popular in the media so we had so many people coming down. The people didn’t know how to get plugged in. They [the Spaniards] were really helpful in getting a bunch of tables to like ‘these are the different working groups’. And that was a huge contribution, but it’s like not gonna be written in the pages of the history, but the people had a place to go and participate. (Interview, 11 October 2012, New York)

The Spaniards also organized the so-called open forums: ‘a discussion event at Liberty Square in which a volunteer presenter/lecturer gives out a brief presentation that is relevant to the protest followed by an open discussion’.11 Naomi Klein and Slavoj Žižek, among others, were there. Following the example of what they had witnessed at the indignados movement, Spanish immigrants wanted to move beyond the occupation, and they proposed activities that would make it meaningful: ‘The emphasis was on occupying but nobody seemed to understand that the square had to be used for something’ (Interview with Rubio; see also Hammond, 2013). According to local activists, their efforts were not in vain: The idea of staying active in the occupation, of demanding that people work, not in a abusive way but rather to promote a collective sense of work, set up committees, the idea that there was much to be done. That this was not just a sleepover but a very active occupation. That feeling was brought about by the Spaniards. (Interview with Wedes)

At any rate, the weight of Spanish activists in the movement progressively declined, as mobilization became massive. The number of participants had increased exponentially since the time of the NYCGA, whereas the number of Spanish participants remained essentially the same. After a while, most of the Spanish participants joined the Empowerment and Education group alongside immigrants from Iran, Greece, Egypt and other countries. They intended to connect the activity which was taking place at the square with that of community groups and activists working in other parts of New York City.12 In the meantime, activists of the previous global justice movement participated in the creation of a ‘spokes council’ within OWS (Naidu, 2011; Rebick, 2012), which was different from the system put in practice by the indignados in Spain. Spokes-councils are based on ‘the use of delegates from the various “affinity groups” representing the diverse organizations, movements, and less formally organized groups of participants’ (Buttel & Gould, 2004, p. 39). Non-global activists have participated in protests that demand swift coordination and have developed mechanisms which have proven to be highly efficacious in this regard, for example with the spoke councils that led to the blocking of WTO negotiations in Seattle, in 1999. Spokes-councils facilitate the construction of coalitions between different groups through participation (Wood, 2012), whereas the assembly system followed by the indignados criticizes the concept of representation and substitutes it with direct participation. According to both participants and observers (Graeber, 2013; Welty, Bolton, & Zukowski, 2012), the alternative system arranged around spokes-councils, which was created to solve the problems associated with assemblies (e.g. slowness, dead-ends), had a limited effect on OWS.

Conclusions This article analyses the role of Spanish immigrants in the diffusion of the indignados movement (also known as 15M) in OWS. The Spanish indignados mobilized a large number of people, not only in Spain, but also the Spanish residents in other countries. A group of Spanish residents in NYC created a network which connected with local activists and joined them in a series of mobilizations which

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prepared and anticipated the OWS movement, including the NYCGA. Local activists regarded the Spanish immigrants as the representatives of a powerful mass movement, which facilitated the diffusion of innovations for the organization of a similar movement in the United States. Spanish immigrants focused on the concept of organizational inclusiveness that the indignados had implemented in Spain; the idea was to set up an open, and highly emotional, movement in order to involve the majority of the population. In their diffusion work, they launched a number of initiatives, among which their contribution to the 99% mobilizing frame must be highlighted. The analysis of this process underlines the interactive, relational and dynamic dimension of the transnational diffusion of social movements. Following Chabot (2010, 2012), this research focuses on the role of agency, which has been underestimated in other, more structural approaches to diffusion (Tarrow, 2005). Far from acting as mere transmitters of information, the Spaniards started an intense dialogue with the local activists, and this facilitated the adaptation of innovations from one social context to the other. Dialogue was not easy, but rather a laborious process in which immigrants had to face language-related problems, differences with local activist practices and with the strategy of the emerging movement, as well as stereotypes about the Spanish movement. The analysis of these problems reveals the cultural complexity of transnational diffusion within the current protest wave. Because of recent technological advances, it is tempting to assume that the transnational diffusion of social movements is quicker, easier and more common than it was in the past. The internet and social media have no doubt increased connectivity between activists. However, the transnational diffusion of social movements involves a complex dialogue between activists, and it remains to be seen whether the internet and social media promote this sort of dialogue or are, instead, conducive to more superficial interaction, the reproduction of stereotypes and the hampering of collective learning based on the diverse experiences of activists from different backgrounds. Internet may be a useful and efficient means for the publicity of certain elements, for example some sense of collective efficacy (Gamson, 2011; Romanos, in press), but not for the diffusion of more complex contents, which are harder to adopt without the mediation of transnational actors who can explain them in detail, advocate for their implementation and certify their appropriateness. The analysis of the personal contact and intergroup dialogue established between the Spanish emigrants and local activists demonstrates that today’s transnational diffusion of social movements still relies on this kind of interaction. The contribution is significant, for debates about a possible change in paradigm in the organization of social movements, from collective action to connective action, tend to overestimate the role of social media and internet applications, while other, more traditional, channels of communication, are unduly overshadowed. The analysis of the relationship between 15M and OWS accordingly emphasizes the central role played by brokerage within the diffusion of innovative practices. Transnational diffusion is a complex process of collective learning. Spanish immigrants not only faced cultural problems in the course of their diffusion work, but also had to ensure that the result of their work was not endangered by sudden developments, such as the mass arrival of new participants after the occupation of Zuccotti Park, which threatened the inclusive mobilizing frame adopted by NYCGA. In some cases, the work of Spanish participants was overrun by the scale of these developments; for example, ultimately the movement followed a different path to the one the Spanish participants wished to promote, with the adoption of the spokes-council model. Departing from previous research, this article consequently proposes a process-oriented perspective on brokerage, aiming to contribute to a better understanding of its implications on diffusion. While establishing brokerage as a main mechanism of transnational diffusion, Tarrow (2005) understands this as a structural pattern rather than a process (see Obstfeld et al., 2014). As already discussed, Chabot builds an agency-oriented model that overcomes Tarrow’s focus on transmission in order to understand ‘what activists involved in collective struggles feel, think, say, and do when they form interpersonal and social relationships across borders’ (Chabot, 2012, p. 4). However, agency in this case is basically the target community. In fact, brokers analysed by Chabot arise from that community and travel to learn from foreign repertoires in interaction with the original practitioners.

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Brokers discussed in this article are, by contrast, immigrants who played different roles in their interaction with the target community. The longitudinal analysis of brokerage shows how the interaction can modify role identity, and eventually diffusion. Brokers change their position in the interaction with other activists, which in turn has implications for the process of collective learning. Spanish immigrants evolved from being mere representatives of 15M in the local context, to taking active part in OWS along with local activists. Later, they abandoned this coordinating role in the emerging collective action to join smaller and peripheral networks. If we combine the analysis of the dynamics of diffusion with the evolution of brokerage over time, we can see that diffusion made good progress while brokers maintained a coordinating role in the movement, and it ceased to do so when brokers were displaced from this central position. The relatively agile dialogue between brokers and local activists did not result in enduring collective learning. Future research must try to ascertain the relationship between the speed of dialogue and the effectiveness of collective learning in other examples of transnational diffusion.

Notes  1. In this and in following quotations, the names of the interviewees are reproduced with their explicit consent.  2. For a discussion on post-identity politics in recent social movements, see Eschle (2011) and Flesher Fominaya (2015). In relation to the Spanish 15M, see Lara (2012).  3. On the ‘politics of anyone’ in the Spanish 15M, see Lawrence (2013a).  4. The deliberative culture of the global justice movement is underlain by a strong sense of pre-figuration, understood as a strategy of social change based on the consistency of means and goals. Beyond the contentious 1960s and the new social movements, this notion is rooted in modern anarchist theory: Bakunin and his followers predicted the emergence of a future society whose embryo may be found in the First International. Anarchist constructive movements, developed in parallel to workers’ associationism, including culture, education and information, also pre-figured an anti-authoritarian, free and non-hierarchical social model, similar to that described by modern activism (Romanos, 2013b).  5. http://madrid.tomalaplaza.net/2011/08/12/, Capitals in the original; my italics.  6. I am thankful to Jeff Lawrence for letting me access the thread.  7. Message proposal: ‘Empowerment for all equals justice for all – The corporate domination of our economy and government is destroying our lives and communities therefore we are calling a General Assembly on Wall street on September 17th to achieve real democratic participation.’  8. I am thankful to Begoña Santa-Cecilia for letting me access the message and to Luis Moreno-Caballud, for letting me reproduce it here.  9. Message from Luis Moreno-Caballud to Adbusters (21 September 2011). I am thankful to Begoña Santa-Cecilia for letting me access the message and to Luis Moreno-Caballud for letting me reproduce it here. 10. Other Spanish immigrants also had travelled to Spain and visited the information point in Puerta del Sol. 11. http://www.nycga.net/groups/education-and-empowerment/docs/minutes–empowerment-and-educationworking-group-meeting–12211–60-wall-st 12. After the Zuccotti Park occupation was cleared, the group changed its name to ‘Making Worlds’. Most if its members are still Spaniards. Some other new people from Spain made themselves present in New York City when they heard the call from Adbusters to OWS. For the contribution of this ‘visitors’ to OWS, see Romanos (in press).

Acknowledgements I would like to thank participants in the Forum for Civil Society and Social Movement Research (University of Gothenburg) for their stimulating criticisms and suggestions to an earlier draft of this article. I am also grateful to David Siddhartha Patel, Ion Bogdan Vasi and Chan S. Suh for sending me their unpublished work and for their permission to cite them here. I would also like to thank Sidney Tarrow for his brokerage with these authors. Finally, I would like to thank the previous SMS editor-in-chief (Graeme Hayes) and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful feedback. Any errors remain my own.

Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

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Funding This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness [grant number CSO2013-41035-P].

Notes on contributor Eduardo Romanos is a Ramón y Cajal Fellow in the Department of Sociology I (Social Change) at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He received his PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in Florence in December 2007. He also holds a European Doctorate Certificate in Social History following a Marie Curie Fellow position at the University of Groningen. Among his most recent publications are articles in Journal of Historical Sociology, Social Movement Studies, Contemporary European History and Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas. His main research interests are in the areas of political sociology and historical sociology, with a particular focus on social movements and protest.

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