Protests as “Events”

The Symbolic Struggles in 2013 Demonstrations in Turkey and Brazil

Ricardo Fabrino Mendonça, Selen ERCAN, Umut Ozguc, Stephanie Lorraine Gomes Reis, Paula Guimarães Simões

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction:
The concept of “event” offers a valuable lens to understand the discursive contestations in and around protests. Events create ruptures that disturb the logic of continuity and open up new way of thinking and talking about the past and the future. Drawing on this concept, this article analyzes the 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil. It investigates how the causes of these protests were framed and debated in each country and how these frames shifted over time by opening up new interpretations of the past and the future.

Materials and Methods:
Data is generated from four Facebook pages capturing the messages posted during the first 30 days of protests in each country. In the Brazilian case, we collected the posts of: (1) Passe Livre São Paulo (301,787 likes), the group that started the wave of protests; and (2) O Gigante Acordou (155,690 likes), a collective that emerged during the protests, representing nationalist perspectives. In total, 626 posts were collected from both pages. In the Turkish case, we analyzed posts that appeared on the pages of : (1) Taksim Dayanismasi (82,479 likes), an association that played a significant role in organizing and mobilizing Gezi Park protests; and (2) Recep Tayyip Erdogan (6,957,408 likes), a pro-government and inherently anti-protest page. We coded each post inductively focusing particularly on the way they framed the causes of the protests. We then identified the number of times each frame was mentioned during the first 30 days of the protests and explored whether and how frames changed over time.

Results:
Our analysis reveals a significant shift in the way the causes of the protests were framed over time in both countries, yet with different implications. While in Brazil, we observe a frame transformation undermining the initial rationale of the protests, in Turkey we see a frame extension and the emergence of broader issues as the real causes of protests, such as the authoritarian nature of the regime and the restriction of democratic rights in this country.

Discussion:
The article offers a way of analysing protests based on a conceptual lens of event. It sheds light on the role of social media as a platform for symbolic struggles over the protests. Furthermore, the article opens up a debate about the developments of democracy in both countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalRevista de Sociologia e Politica
Volume27
Issue number69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Fabrino Mendonça, R., ERCAN, S., Ozguc, U., Gomes Reis, S. L., & Guimarães Simões, P. (2019). Protests as “Events”: The Symbolic Struggles in 2013 Demonstrations in Turkey and Brazil. Revista de Sociologia e Politica, 27(69), 1-27. [001]. https://doi.org/10.1590/1678987319276901