Assembling Movements: A Case Study on Boundary Work in (between) Events


There are moments in which the effervescence of protest practices can trigger the emergence of new subjectivities that significantly impact the relationships among protesters. Despite its relevance in activists' discourses, research on boundary work during protest events still tends to rely on approaches that privilege the stability of the group identifications while assuming an 'us' versus 'them' mentality. This article explores the group identification logic of collectives during protest events, using as a case study Extremadura's Anti-Repressive Movement. This research draws on data from a multi-year ethnography (January 2018–December 2020) that includes 28 in-depth interviews, participant observation, and document analysis carried out during and between two events that triggered waves of contention in southwestern Spain. This article analyzes how the 'us' of Extremadura's Anti-Repressive Movement was built upon momentum and disagreement. It argues that the 'us' was not necessarily publicly negotiated or structured around shared meanings but constructed through some individuals' (self)exclusion from the practices emerging in that context. It also analyzes how these (self)exclusions reinforced some categories that acted as core values within this movement, preventing alternative positions. Finally, the article suggests a selfing/othering mechanism for this field.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v16i2p301

Keywords: protest; event; boundary work; identification; social movements


Allen-Perkins, D., I. Frías (2018), Del “Toma la plaza” a la “ocupación” en Extremadura: la politización del espacio en los movimientos “indignados”, Política y Sociedad, 55(2): 399-419.

Allen-Perkins D. (2022), “Más allá de la solidaridad virtual: el uso de las tecnologías digitales de la comunicación en el movimiento antirrepresivo de Extremadura, España”, Yeiyá, 3(1): 163-180.

Barth F. (1969), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference, London: George Allen and Unwin.

Baumann G., and A. Gingrich. (2004), Grammars of Identity/Alterity. A Structural Approach, New York: Berghahn Books.

Berger P. L., and T. Luckmann. (1966), The Social Construction of Reality. A Teatrise in the Sociology of Knowledge, London: Penguin Books.

Bourdieu P. (1990), The Logic of Practice, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu P. (2000), Propos sur le champ politique, Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon.

Brubaker R. (2004), Ethnicity without Groups, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Brubaker R., and F. Cooper. (2000), “Beyond “Identity””, Theory and Society, 29(1): 1-47.

Butler J., E Laclau, and S. Žižek. (2000), Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, London and New York: Verso.

Cañedo Rodríguez M. (2012), “Multitudes urbanas: de las figuras y lógicas prácticas de la identificación política”, Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares, LXVII(2): 359-384.

Cañedo Rodríguez M. (2016), “Tiempos de colaboración: performances del conocimiento urbano”, Disparidades. Revista de Antropología, 71(1): 39-48.

Castañeda E. (2012), “The indignados of Spain. A precedent to occupy Wall street”, Social Movement Studies, 11(3-4): 309-319.

della Porta D. (2020), “Protests as critical junctures: some reflections towards a momentous approach to social movements”, Social Movement Studies, 19(5-6): 556-575.

Denzin N. K. (2009), The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods, New York: Aldine Transaction.

Díaz de Rada Á. (2003), “Las edades del delito”, Revista de Antropología Social, 12: 261-286.

Díaz de Rada Á. (2008), “¿Dónde está la frontera? Prejuicios de campo y problemas de escala en la estructuración étnica en Sápmi”, Revista de dialectología y tradiciones populares, LXIII(1): 187-235.

Dopico Gómez-Aller J. (2021), “El segundo ‘caso Pablo Hasél’”, Eunomía: Revista en Cultura de la Legalidad, 20: 393-414.

Douglas M. (1966), Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Durkheim E. (1965 [1912]), The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, New York: Free Press.

Durkheim E., and M. Mauss. (1963 [1903]), Primitive Classification, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Elias N. (1982 [1939]), The Civilizing Process, New York: Blackwell.

Evans-Pritchard E. E. (1940), The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Ferreira C. (2019), “Vox as representative of the radical right in Spain: A study of its ideology”, Revista Española de Ciencia Política, 51: 73-98.

Flesher Fominaya C. (2010), “Collective Identity in Social Movements: Central Concepts and Debates”, Sociology Compass, 4(6): 393-404.

Flesher Fominaya C. (2014), “Debunking spontaneity: Spain’s 15-M/indignados as autonomous Movement”, Social Movement Studies, 14(2): 142-163.

Flesher Fominaya C. (2019), “Collective Identity in Social Movements: Assessing the Limits of a Theoretical Framework”, nn D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule, H. Kriesi and H. J. McCammon (eds.), The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Second Edition, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 429-445.

Fortes M., and E.E. Evans-Pritchard. (1940), African Political Systems, London: Oxford University Press.

Gamson J. (1997), “Messages of Exclusion: Gender, Movements, and Symbolic Boundaries”, Gender and Society, 11(2): 178-199.

Gamson W. A. (1991), “Commitment and agency in social movements”, Sociological Forum, 6(1): 27-50.

Gillan K. (2018), “Temporality in social movement theory: vectors and events in the neoliberal timescape”, Social Movement Studies, 19(5-6): 516-535.

Goodwin J., J. M. Jasper, and F. Polletta. (2009), Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Graeber D. (2009), Direct Action: An Ethnography, Oakland: AK Press.

Graeber D. (2013), The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, New York: Spiegel & Grau.

Hunt S. A., and R. D. Benford. (2004), “Collective Identity, Solidarity, and Commitment”, in D. Snow, S. Soule and H. Kriesi (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 694-715.

Hunt S. A., R. D. Benford, and D. Snow. (1994), “Identity Fields: Framing Processes and the Social Construction of Movements Identities”, in E. Laraña, H. Johnston, and J. R. Gusfield (eds.), New Social Movements: From Ideology to Identity, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, pp. 185-208.

Ingold T., and J. L. Vergunts. (2008), Ways of walking: Ethnography and practice on foot, London: Ashgate.

Jenkins R. (1996), Social Identity, London: Routledge.

Kockelman, P. (2007), “Agency: The Relation between Meaning, Power, and Knowledge”, Current Anthropology, 48(3): 375-401.

Lamont M., and V. Molnár. (2002), “The Study of Boundaries in the Social Sciences”, Annual Review of Sociology, 28(1): 167-195.

Latour B. (1993), We Have Never Been Modern, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Latour B. (2005), Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Melucci A. (1995), “The Process of Collective Identity”, in H. Johnston and B. Klandermans (eds.), Social Movements and Culture, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press / UCL Press, pp. 41-63.

O’Reilly K. (2011), Ethnographic methods, London: Routledge.

Passy, F. (2003). “Social Networks Matter. But How?”, in M. Diani and D. McAdam (eds.), Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 21-48.

Polletta F., and J. M. Jasper. (2001), “Collective Identity and Social Movements”, Annual Review of Sociology, 27(1): 283-305.

Saunders C. (2008), “Double-edged swords? Collective identity and solidarity in the environment movement”, The British Journal of Sociology, 59(2): 227-253.

Snow D. A., and C. Corrigall-Brown. (2015), “Collective Identity”, in J. Wright (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Second Edition, Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 174-179.

Snow D. A., L. A. Zurcher, and S. Ekland-Olson. (1980), “Social Networks and Social Movements: A Microstructural Approach to Differential Recruitment”, American Sociological Review, 45: 787-801.

Tajfel H., and J. C. Turner. (1985), “The social identity theory of intergroup behavior”, in S. Worchel and W. G. Austin (eds.), Psychology of Intergroup Relations, Chicago: Nelson-Hall, pp. 7-24.

Tsing A. L. (2005), Friction. An Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Turner V. W. (1996 [1957]), Schism and Continuity in an African Society. A Study of Ndembu Village Life, Oxford: Berg.

Velasco H., and Á. Díaz de Rada. (1997), La lógica de la investigación etnográfica. Un modelo de trabajo para etnógrafos de la escuela, Madrid: Trotta.

Vercauteren D., O. M. Crabbé, and T. Müller. (2010), Micropolíticas de los grupos. Para una ecología de las prácticas colectivas, Madrid: Traficantes de Sueños.

Wang D., A. Piazza, and S. A. Soule. (2018), “Boundary-Spanning in Social Movements: Antecedents and Outcomes”, Annual Review of Sociology, 44(1): 167-187.

Weber M. (1978 [1922]), Economy and Society, vol. 1, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.