Multimodal narrative as an instrument for social change

Authors Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Esperanza Morales-López
Published in CADAAD Journal
Publication date 2015
Research groups Normative Professionalisation
Type Article


This article provides a description of the emergence of the Spanish ‘Occupy’ movement, Democracia real ya. The aim is to analyse the innovative discursive features of this movement and to connect this analysis to what we consider the innovative potential of the critical sciences. The movement is the result of a spontaneous uprising that appeared on the main squares of Madrid and Barcelona on 15 May 2011 and then spread to other Spanish cities. This date gave it its name: 15M. While the struggle for democracy in Spain is certainly not new, the 15M group shows a series of innovative features. These include the emphasis on peaceful struggle and the imaginary of a new democracy or worldview, transmitted through innovative placards and slogans designed by Spanish citizens. We consider these innovative not only due to their creativity, but also because of their use as a form of civil action. Our argument is that these placards both functioned as a sign of protest and, in combination with the demonstrations and the general dynamics of 15M, helped to reframe the population’s understanding of the crisis and rearticulate the identity of the citizens from victims to agents. In order to analyse the multimodal character of this struggle, we developed an interdisciplinary methodology, which combines socio-cognitive approaches that consider ideological proposals as socio-cognitive constructs (i.e. the notion of narrative or cognitive frame), and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in the analysis of discourses related to processes of social imagination and transformation. The socio-constructivist perspective is used to consider these discourses in relation to their actors, particular contexts and actions. The use of CDA, which included a careful rhetoric analysis, helped to analyse the process of deconstruction, transformation and reconstruction that 15M uses to maintain its struggle. The narrative analysis and the discursive theoretical concept of articulation helped to methodologically show aspects of the process of change alluded to above. This change was both in terms of cognition and in the modification of identity that turned a large part of the Spanish population from victims to indignados and to the neologism indignadanos, which is a composition of indignado and ciudadano (citizen).

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in CADAAD Journal
Year and volume 7 2
Key words multimodal narrative, critical discourse analysis, social change
Page range 200-221

Nicolien Montesano Montessori

Nicolien Montesano Montessori | Associate professor | Normative Professionalisation

Nicolien Montesano Montessori

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Communication in Digital Transition