Spaces of Struggle: Socialism and Neoliberalism With a Human Face Among Digital Parties and Online Movements in Europe

Keywords: platform party, socialist parties, social movements, neoliberalism, Marxism


This article aims to illustrate the complexity of the relationships between digital participation spaces and organisations related to the Southern-European and US socialist traditions. Digital communication and, in particular, the various platforms of digital participation have been long living between the illusion of techno-libertarian thrusts and the technocratic tendencies framing the New Public Management approach. The suspicion of socialist-inspired parties but also of post-Marxist social movements towards the digital is connected on the one hand to the organisational structure of the parties and on the other hand to the capacity of neoliberalism to incorporate digital innovation in its cultural horizon. Participation platforms have often been functional to the emergence of a neoliberalism with a human face, capable of offering potential spaces of participation that depoliticise civic activism and transform it into a mere technical tool of minimal governance. In recent years, however, digital party experiences have developed in the context of left-wing organisations. In other cases, digital platforms have been used as tools of mobilisation and even as instruments for the creation of a new sentimental connections with the increasingly fragmented “popular classes”. Digital has thus become a “space of struggle”, in the same meaning it was used in the 1980s by Stuart Hall. This article presents the first findings of a research project on the use of digital platforms by: a) parties of socialist inspiration in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and the USA; and b) bottom-up social movements. The analysis follows an empirical approach based on: a) the analysis of organisations; b) content analysis (Evaluation Assertion Analysis) of political and policy documents on the use of digital as a tool for political struggle; c) in-depth interviews to digital activists of social movements.

Author Biographies

Emiliana De Blasio, Luiss University, Rome, Italy

Emiliana De Blasio is Lecturer of Open Government and of Media Sociology at LUISS University, where she also teaches Gender Politics. She is Invited Professor of Media Sociology at Gregorian University in Rome.

Michele Sorice, Luiss University, Rome, Italy

Michele Sorice is Professor of Democratic Innovations, of Media Studies and of Political Sociology at LUISS University, where he is also director of the Centre for Conflict and Participation Studies.

Special Issue: Communicative Socialism/Digital Socialism