Protest Artifacts in the Mexican Social Movement Sector: Reflections on the “Stepchild” of Cultural Analysis

  • Ligia Tavera FenollosaEmail author
  • Hank Johnston
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


This chapter examines a neglected dimension in the cultural analysis of social movements: cultural artifacts. We argue that the material productions of movement association such as music, art, literature, speeches, narratives, videos, recruitment texts, and so on, are not just secondary representations of more basic processes, but rather serve as ongoing foci of interaction and meaning production during mobilization. The materiality of artifacts means that they are stable sites where the ongoing creation of culture is accomplished, bridging the diversity of a movement and fostering collective identity so that coordinated movement activities can occur. To elaborate the central role of cultural artifacts, we analyze two that played significant roles in the contemporary Mexican social movement sector: the Estela de Luz and online posting of #YoSoy132. We discuss the (1) temporal processes of how an object becomes an artifact; (2), the diversity of interpretations that surround it; (3) the ongoing processes that hone a widely shared representation; and (4) its central role in mobilization as a trigger of these interpretations, which in the lexicon of protest studies are called collective action frames. We close by discussing the impact of digital artifacts such as the video, “131 Ibero Students” YouTube posting, in future social movement processes.


Cultural analysis Cultural artifacts Cultural performances #YoSoy132 Estela de Luz Collective action frames Corruption Facebook YouTube Digital artifacts PRI Enrique Peña Nieto Microperformances Democratic transition Felipe Calderón 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyFLACSO MéxicoMéxico D.F.Mexico
  2. 2.Department of SociologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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