• 105 •
Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales
ISSN: 1696-0270 • e-ISSN: 2340-4973
José Candón-Mena
Universidad de Sevilla
Ibán Díaz-Parra
Universidad de Sevilla
Universidad de Sevilla
In recent times, Spain has seen the
emergence of a number of social
movements advocating for decent
housing. This has been in parallel with
the deepening and generalization of
this problem for an important part of the
population. These movements integrate
political ideas and forms of collective
action that have developed and matured
over the last two decades in markedly
different situations. This article proposes
that, rather than disconnected groups
and movements, we can speak of a long
sequence of on-going mobilization with
various waves of urban protests, which
reached their maximum relevance under
the economic crisis. This narrative takes
the city of Seville as a case study and
depicts the main features of this cycle as
observed from an investigation based on
direct participant observation.
Key-Words: Seville; 15M; squatting
movement; decent housing movement;
participant observation
En los últimos tiempos, España ha sido
testigo del surgimiento de una serie de
movimientos sociales que abogan por
una vivienda digna, paralelamente a la
profundización y generalización de esta
problemática para una parte importante
de la población. Estos movimientos inte-
gran ideas políticas y formas de acción
colectiva que se han desarrollado y ma-
durado durante las dos últimas décadas
en situaciones marcadamente diferen-
tes. Este artículo propone que, más que
grupos y movimientos desconectados,
podemos hablar de una larga secuen-
cia de movilizaciones en curso con va-
rias oleadas de protestas urbanas, que
alcanzaron su máxima relevancia bajo
la crisis económica. El texto toma la ciu-
dad de Sevilla como caso de estudio y
describe las principales características
de este ciclo como resultado de una in-
vestigación basada en la observación
Palabras clave: Sevilla; 15M; movimien-
to okupa; movimiento vivienda digna; ob-
servación participante
Cómo citar este artículo/citation: Candón-Mena, José; Díaz-Parra, Ibán; Montero-Sánchez, David (2022). The
Housing Movement in Seville. From “Dignified Housing” to 15M. ANDULI 21 (2022) pp. 105-121.
Doi: https://10.12795/anduli.2022.i21.05
Recibido: 02.10.2020; Aprobado: 22.03.2021; Publicado: 03.01.2022
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
• 106 •
1. Introduction
In the following pages we hypothesize that it is actually possible to speak about a long,
clearly connected, sequence of mobilization around the subject of decent housing since
the mid 1970s in Spain, one undergoing different waves of protest. Rather than about
isolated instances of protest, we argue that such mobilization cycle underwent a number
of latent and manifest phases of mobilization and peaked in the context of the economic
and political crisis that sparked the 15m movement. Our analysis will specically focus
on the city of Seville in southern Spain. Here, wider national movements have very often
translated into local struggles where the issue of housing has featured prominently. From
this local perspective, our empirical work shows that each subsequent mobilization phase
over this long period of time left behind a legacy of structures, discourses, identities and
resources for collective action that resurfaced later on, giving a clear continuity to the
social struggle around housing. The text also emphasizes the role played by veteran
activists throughout the aforementioned cycle of mobilization.
Although our research specically draws a line connecting phenomena such as
the neighbor movement during the democratic transition or the okupa (squatter)
movement in the 1980s (Carbonell, 1999; Martínez López, 2002, 2019 y 2020)
through to more recent social struggles around issues such as gentrication and
touristication (Díaz-Parra, 2008 and 2013; Fernández, Hernández and Barragán,
2019), our research mostly engages with the historical period extending between the
emergence of the movement for Vivienda Digna [Dignied Housing] in 2006 (Haro
and Sampedro, 2011; Aguilar and Fernández, 2010; García, 2011) and the impact
of the 15m movement (Candón-Mena, 2013; Díaz-Parra and Candón-Mena, 2015),
as well as subsequent actions by the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca [PAH,
Mortgages Affected Platform] (Colau and Alemany, 2012), and the occupation of the
so-called ‘Corralas’1 in Seville from 2012 onwards. During these years a major shift is
evident in the concrete nature of the housing problem in Spain as it went from being
a well-dened problem, affecting a distinct minority of groups within Spanish society,
to being a generalized and global issue (Díaz-Parra, 2013). This made possible for
social movements to complete a transition from organizations focused on specic
groups and problems around housing into platforms that attempt to confront the
problem from a wider perspective2.
2. Methodology
Methodologically, our challenge, as scholars directly engaged in the housing
movement in Seville has been to transform our political engagement in a strategic
opportunity to undertake extensive research from within the movement. Therefore,
our empirical work should be understood in the context of activist research (Fuster,
2009; Greenwood, 2007; Hale, 2006; Malo, 2004). Both José Candón-Mena and Iban
1 A ‘corrala’ is a common house in Andalusia designed with several corridors and balconies over-
looking a central, indoors patio. They were typical and very popular in cities like Seville. Collective
occupations taking place in Seville in the latter stages of the 15m movement take their name after
traditional ‘corralas’.
2 Since the start of the crisis (late 2007) 4 million jobs have been destroyed. There are close to 6
million people unemployed and the unemployment rate is igher than 25%, whichmeans that one
in every four people of working age nds themselves unemployed. In the under 25 population it
surpasses 50%, meaning that half of all young people are unemployed. See http://www.ine.es/
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
Díaz-Parra have featured prominently in the analyzed movements and have used their
experience as the bases for this research. Methodological techniques used are based
on processes of participant observation developed in Seville over the last 15 years in
contexts such as the neighbor and okupa movement (AAVV El Triangulo, CV Pumarejo,
Coordinadora de Barrios en Lucha, CSOA Casas Viejas, CSOA Sin Nombre, CSOA
La Fabrica de Sombreros, CSOA La Huelga), the Vivienda Digna movement in Seville,
15M (Asambleas del Barrio San Pablo-Santa Justa, Intercomisión de Vivienda 15m,
PIVE) and also in the Corralas (La Utopía y La Alegría). Such observation techniques
have allowed us to put together over a dozen of autobiographical narratives (Clandinin
and Connelly, 1994; Blanco, 2010; De Miguel, 1996) and life stories (Bertaux, 2005;
Pujadas, 1992) from participants and veteran activists in the vast majority of the
analyzed social movements. Furthermore, the present article has also beneted from
some of the previous academic work developed by the authors in the context of the
okupa, Vivienda Digna and 15m movements, including more than 30 semi-structured
interviews (Vallés, 1997) and ten focus groups (Ibáñez, 1979; Callejo, 2001) involving
activists in Seville. Finally, published work by one of the authors, Iban Díaz-Parra,
over the housing-market and gentrication issues in Seville has been used in order
to provide background information to our analysis of mobilization patterns around
decent housing in the city (Díaz-Parra, 2010 and 2013). Our ultimate goal has been to
dene an ethnographical account of the housing movement that focuses mainly on its
stakeholders, whether activists, scholars, policy makers, neighbors and/or the people
affected by political and economic problems around housing.
3. Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework of this investigation is based on the major currents of
the study of social movements; the Mobilisation of Resources Theory (RMT), and
the New Social Movements (NSM). The synergy between both tendencies and the
attempts to unify them in the eighties will be the point of departure for this analysis.
With regard to establishing a connection between different housing movements some
specic concepts from the theory of mobilisation of resources and the new social
movements will be relevant.
With regard to the rst, we will use the concept of ‘cycles of protest’ proposed by
Tarrow, who denes it as ‘a phase of intensication of the conicts in the social system’
(1994:263). The cycles of protest are characterized by an increase and diffusion
of conict due to the demonstrative effect of the rst mobilisations, changes in the
repertoire of confrontation as new cultural frames are tested, the appearance of new
organisations and the radicalization of existing ones, and a growth in information and
interactions between the mobilised groups and the authorities. The phase of decline or
demobilisation is characterised by exhaustion and polarisation, the division between
violence and institutionalisation, and strategies of recuperation and repression.
Although Tarrow includes the counter-movements that rise as a response to the rst
mobilisations, for our analysis we are particularly interested in the description of
the phases that a concrete movement has to pass through, which after Its birth and
expansion ends in decline. We intend to show how the housing crisis has produced
various cycles of protest which after an intense period of mobilisation have ended,
at rst sight, disappearing. However, we begin with the hypothesis that the decline
and disappearance of said movements in the public sphere does not signify their
disappearance, but that we can consider them as successive periods in a long cycle
of mobilisation which is maintained over time.
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
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Koopmans (2004) takes Tarrow’s work as a point of departure in order to argue that
instances of collective action are not independent and focuses on their connectedness,
both in time and space, with other instances of collective action. Unlike Tarrow,
however, Koopmans explains that the concept of a cycle implies the idea of a recurring
sequence of events, speaking instead of ‘waves of contention’ with a strong increase
and decrease phases in a moment of visible protest. Koopman defends the relevance
of considering dynamic interaction among a multitude of contenders in order to
understand how periods of ‘normal politics’ (Koopmans, 2004:41) can alternate with a
surge of intense mobilization. His view depicts political change as a process marked
by the attempts of various contenders to improve their position within specic power
systems, adapting their repertoires of action and innovating in response to changes
in the socio-political context.
From the perspective of new social movements, Melucci (1999) complements the ideas
of Tarrow with a critique which he calls the ‘myopia of the visible’ which, according
to the critique, characterizes the previous perspectives of studies of movements.
According to Melucci the previous theories started from the existence of a movement
to analyse afterwards when and how they mobilised, but the actual existence to start
with of a collective subject is precisely what needs to be explained. The existence of
a movement cannot therefore be treated as a fact but as the product of a process.
The ‘collective identity’ would be the process by which the subjects produce collective
structures of knowledge which are the result of emotional recognition and which move
them to action and an intermediate level in which the individuals evaluate and recognise
what they have in common and decide to act collectively. This distinguishes two levels
in existence in the social movements, the ‘level of latency’ and the ‘level of visibility’.
The ‘level of latency’ is for Melucci the greatest strength of the new movements. The
importance of this phase is highlighted when the potential for a protest is examined,
in contrast to the phase of visibility and the public demonstrations of collective action,
which has been the focus of attention of previous theories. Critiquing in this way the
‘myopia of the visible’ is to say, the emphasis given to the mobilisation in itself over
the deeper causes of it which exists in the system of reference previously created.
It is in the level of latency, in the ‘submerged networks’, where alternative cultural
codes are created and the alternative forms of social organisation which will represent
the demands of the movement before the wider society in the level of visibility. The
submerged networks are the ‘laboratories’ where cultural models and collective
identities are experimented with. Thus, it is possible to take into consideration the
idea that the different cycles of mobilisation around housing, dened a priori as
independent movements, form part of the same cycle of protest in which every one
of the stages of visible collective action are nothing more than episodes of activity
connected by stages of latency in which the movement continues to be active,
although without producing mobilisations in the public sphere.
One of the points of contact between RMT and NSM is exemplied in the concepts of
‘formation of consensus’ and ‘mobilisation of consensus’ proposed by Klandermans
(1988) and the present similarities with the stages of latency and activity dened by
Melucci and also with the periods of normal politics and waves of contention contributed
by Koopmans. The rst denes the previous phase before the mobilisation in which
interpretations held in common are created, frames of reference and construction of new
shared meanings which dene the collective identity of the subjects of the movement.
In this way they recover the cultural and subjective factors, the belief systems and the
ideological component which the excessive rationalism and strategic focus of the RMT
had discarded. The mobilisation of consensus would include many of the contributions
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
• 109 •
of the RMT such as the important role of the organisations of the movement, the
mobilisations of resources or the taking advantage of political opportunities.
In general, we can sum up the contributions of Tarrow, Koopmans Melucci and
Klandermans as attempts to dene the stages of mobilisation which go further than
the stage of protests visible in the public sphere. Tarrow pays more attention to the
stage of visible and active mobilization, but with the merit of pointing to the natural
cycle of protests. For their part, Melucci, Koopman and Klandermans would point to
the importance of previous stages prior to the mobilization or intermediate stages
between different cycles of protests. Melucci talks about ‘submerged networks’ and
about the ‘level of latency’ where cultural codes and identities of collective actors
are created and negotiated through social interaction. Koopmans focuses on a more
ecological approach, calling attention to the constant interaction of a number of actors
across before, during and after a wave of contention. On the other hand, Klandermans
points towards a previous ‘formation of consensus’ phase where social actors who
would later on proceed to the ‘mobilization of consensus’ are constructed after
gaining a consciousness of themselves as a group. Nonetheless, this ‘mobilization of
consensus’ can happen previously while still in a latency phase where the movements
try to circulate their proposals for collective action before going through with them and
formulate them in the public domain. The following table summarizes the concepts
used by the authors discussed in this text. They show what, generally, could be read
as a latent and a manifest stage in the life of social movements.
Table I. Theoretical framework
Tarrow Melucci Klandermans Koopmans
Latent Stages Level of Latency Formation of
Consensus Normal politics
Visible Stages Cycles of Protest Level of Visibility Mobilisation of
Waves of
The aforementioned concepts constitute the bases of our proposal’s theoretical
framework in accordance with our research’s objectives and the proposed hypothesis.
Further analysis would pay increased attention to such concepts in order to verify our
4. Housing struggles in Seville: From Okupas to the Corralas
First, we should mention previous struggles around housing problems at state-level
which, although they cannot be considered as part of the wider cycle of mobilisation
which we are examining here, still serve as historic reference points of previous
The rst of these is the so-called tenants’ movement which connected to the workers’
movement in the early twentieth century in a number of ways. This tenant’s movement
was also deeply intertwined with urban, anarcho-syndicalist groups organising
solidarity and struggle in the working class through popular ateneos (working class
cultural centres). Several laws regulating tenancies, clearly favourable to tenants,
from the period 1910-1920 were a direct response to this movement’s demands and
inaugurated a legal tradition which was to continue until the mid 1980s.
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
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The second of these struggles calls attention to the movement of neighbours’
associations. Mostly during the 1960s and 19790s, this movement based its success
on the connection between the management of basic necessities in common spaces,
the neighbourhood, and a transformative, wider struggle that, from afar, can be seen
just as an anti-Franco or pro-democracy, although it also displayed a strong radical
and revolutionary component (Castells, 1983). Even when it was not the primary
objective of neighbour’s association, the struggle for access to housing was one of
its fronts of action. In the last years of Francoism, as the accumulation of housing
stock in Spain began (Capel, 1983), we see the rst mass occupations of newly built
homes. These occupations were closely related with the neighbours’ movement
and they primarily involved public housing stock, such as in the cases of Montjuic in
Barcelona or La Ventanilla in Madrid (Dieste and Pueyo, 2003).
Closer in time and with a clearer connection to current struggles (mostly in terms
of accumulated experience, transfer of activists and common memory of the
struggles), we nd the squatting or okupa movement. Up to 1994, the rst wave
of important occupations is underway in the big metropolis. Such occupations are
normally regarded as a part of a wider, more general cycle of protest which included
campaigns against large events, supranational organisations and neoliberal reforms.
It was after the reform of the Spanish penal code and the inclusion of squatting as
a crime, between the second half of the nineties and the rst years of the twenty
rst century, which the squatting movement reached its highest levels of conict and
public visibility. In this context, squatting was framed as a youth phenomenon and
occupied social centres (CSOAs, self-managed and squatted social centres) became
the main objective of politically motivated squatting (Martínez López, 2003).
This cycle of protest was materialized in Seville around the campaign against the
1992 Universal Exposition which commemorated 500 years from the discovery and
colonisation of America. The rst public squat in Seville was part of this movement and
took place in 1991 when the CSOA Cruz Verde was opened. The occupation continued
until 1995. Previously there had been some experiences of occupying community
spaces and public housing in the city, mostly connected to the local effervescence of
the movement of neighbours’ associations in the period of the political transition from
the dictatorship to liberal democracy (Díaz-Parra, 2012). In 1995 ve squats were
evicted, including CSOA Cruz Verde and in 1996 El Lokal was opened. Although not
a CSOA, El Lokal quickly became a reference point for the squatting phenomenon
in those years. Between 2001 and 2007, a new generation of activists and squatters
would occupy CSOA Casas Viejas. Although run by an anarchist oriented collective,
CSOA Casas Viejas displayed all the recognisable okupa cultural codes and was
clearly linked by its politics and its actions to the local tenants’ movement and to the
struggle against property speculation.
Three years later, in 2010, three new occupations continued to expand the connection
between the okupa movement and neighbour’s struggles initiated by previous CSOAs,
prioritising social action around housing issues over the more identity and aesthetic
focused tendencies of the movement. The CSOA Sin Nombre, squatted by libertarians3
close to Casas Viejas, quickly connected with the tenants struggles of San Bernardo.
The support offered by CSOA Sin Nombre to collectives of neighbours threatened
by gentrication would result in the collective occupation of a public housing building
3 Our use of the term ‘libertarian’ points explicitly towards anarchism in its combination of liberalist
individual freedom and Marxist communalism (Chomsky, 2005). It is not our intention to link the
term to neoliberal or anarcho-capitalist ideas defending the limitation of state action and complete
market freedom, disregarding social solidarity, as often happens in Anglo-Saxon countries.
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
in order to avoid evictions while denouncing the harassment of tenants (Díaz-Parra,
2008; Honorato, 2010). Such collaboration would later become an important reference
point for more current occupations as it involved the occupation of homes rather than
a social centre. Moreover, such occupation was led mostly by older women, a prole
totally different from politically motivated squatting up till that moment.
In 2004, the occupation of La Huerta del Rey Moro, an abandoned wasteland which
was turned into allotments for school groups, also displayed a strong involvement
from neighbours and parents’ associations from local schools. From the beginning,
the approach towards La Huerta del Rey Moro as an occupied was more open to
collaboration with the local administration compared to other occupied spaces
mentioned before, even managing in this case to obtain funding from a participative
budget experience put together by the Seville council. Last, the squatting of neighbours’
centre El Pumarejo is notable for combining the defence of tenants harassed by the
owner of the building, in a context of intense gentrication, and the squatting of a
centre for meetings and activities as in other CSOAs. In the neighbours’ centre El
Pumarejo classic residents’ associations, squatters and the local population came
together. From the experience in El Pumarejo and also out of a number of struggles in
the historic centre of the city, the Liga de Inquilinos La Corriente [La Corriente League
of Tenants] was born. Since then, La Corriente has been dedicated to the defence of
poor tenants in Seville’s city centre. From El Pumarejo, La Corriente also managed an
‘Unidad Básica de Atención al Inquilino’ (UBAI, Basic Unit of Assistance for Tenants),
a legal counselling service on housing issues (Díaz-Parra, 2010).
In 2007 Casas Viejas was evicted. The eviction attracted a great deal of attention due
to a resistance tactic where two squatters chained themselves in a tunnel, managing
to delay the eviction by 36 hours (Agudo, 2010). Squats of CSOAs in the historic
centre continued up to the present day although with a shorter average lifespan, rstly
CSOA Fabrica de Sombreros (2008-2009) and later CSOA La Huelga (2010-2012.)
The vitality of the squatting movement in Seville is notable, making it one of the most
visible along with Madrid and, above all, Barcelona in the Spanish context. In Seville
the movement was characterized by a strong involvement in the classic local residents’
struggles and by a greater openness which allowed collaboration between very different
collectives. Although driven mostly by libertarian activists, the okupa movement also
made space for citizen focused activists and groups, as well as for other actors with
more reformist concerns. It was in the occupied CSOAs that many of the struggles of
those years owed together. Throughout the rst decade of the twenty rst century, the
squatting phenomenon had an important weight in the struggles for housing, inuencing
the movement for Vivienda Digna [Decent Housing] and later 15m. The accumulated
experience in the different politically motivated squats we have examined has meant
that in Seville, as well as the halting of evictions which has occurred all over Spain after
15m, the occupation of dwellings for rehousing evicted people has been a characteristic
and pioneering form of action which stands out in the Spanish context.
As well as the squatting movement and its global critique of the current forms of
managing housing resources, in the period prior to the recent blossoming of the housing
movement, there existed a different series of socio-political collectives which acted over
the housing needs of particular groups. Over the last two decades, several movements
arose with the intention of intervening around the concrete problem of gentrication and
of the housing precariousness of certain strata of the working class, mostly in relation
to older, impoverished tenants who were culturally rooted in the historic working-
class neighbourhoods in collectively rented buildings. In Seville, the aforementioned
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
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occupations of San Bernardo 52, the Plataforma de Inquilinos Amenezados [Platform
of Threatened Tenants] and the Liga de Inquilinos La Corriente are particularly relevant
cases. Also, the persistence of slums would be tackled by different associations,
especially the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía [APDHA, Pro-Human
Rights Association of Andalusia]. Arquitectura y Compromiso Social [ACS, Architechture
and Social Commitment], along with the vestiges of the old neighbourhood movement,
would also play a relevant role in the battle against sub-standard housing. Problems
related to obsolescence and to the need for rehabilitation of the functionalist housing
estates built during the 1960s and 1970s were addressed by platforms such as the
Federación de Entidades de Alcosa, Tres Barrios-Amate or Nosotros También Somos
Sevilla during the rst decade of the 20th century.
The movement for Vivienda Digna entered the scene on a national level in 2006 focused
on the problems of young people to leave their parents’ home in an economic context
of an extremely sharp rise in prices. The movement came out of a spontaneous and
anonymous call out by email to hold a sit-in in the squares of the major cities of Spain on
14th of May 2006. The success of the call out started a period of mobilisations, allowing
the formation of a certain number of new activists, especially in the big cities where the
housing problem was most acute. In contrast to previous housing movements, Vivienda
Digna managed to make the housing question a central political issue, inheriting from
the squatting movement a politics of a global critique of the management of housing
resources. In time, the movement would connect directly with 15m, being one of its
main forbearers and also the seed of organisations like PAH, a notable protagonist of
the current housing struggle (Candón-Mena, 2013:21-25).
The assemblies for Vivienda Digna, which sprung up after the rst sit-in and were
later called V de Vivienda, would become the main structures of mobilisation of the
movement. The movement had important repercussions and great levels of social
acceptance, as well as it managed to have at least a symbolical inuence in wider
politics, turning the housing issue into an important point in the local elections of May
2007. In the same year, housing became the main problem of Spaniards according
to a poll by the Centre of Sociological Investigations4. The demand that state comply
with article 47 of the Spanish Constitution, which refers to the right of all citizens to
housing; slogans like ‘Qué pasa, qué pasa, que no tenemos casa’ [What’s up, what’s
up, we don’t have a house] and of course the organisational structures created by
the movement itself, such as the PAH, formed in Barcelona in 2009, undoubtedly
represent the main legacy of the assemblies for Vivienda Digna. This movement also
saw the consolidation of activist uses of digital technology in line with protests in 2004
following the 11M terrorist attacks in Madrid (Sampedro, 2005). The success of the
massive, anonymous call-out by email that initiated the movement legitimated this
new form of action which was to be used later by 15m (Candón-Mena, 2009).
In Seville a local assembly for Vivienda Digna was set up and remained active between
2006 and 2007. It mainly replicated mobilisations at a national level, but also staged
their own protests at draws celebrated by the council for social housing allocation.
Housing activists and the squatting movement were to be very present in the Vivienda
Digna assemblies in Seville, with weekly meetings in CSOA Sin Nombre. These
assemblies integrated new activists along with veterans of the housing struggle, such
as members of La Liga de Inquilinos La Corriente, ACS, APDHA or activists from
different occupied social centres.
4 See http://www.cis.es/cis/export/sites/default/-Archivos/Indicadores/documentos_html/TresPro-
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
• 113 •
An important part of the activists who participated in the Vivienda Digna assemblies
would become the driving force for the platform Barrios en Lucha [Neighbourhoods
in Struggle] which was active between 2008 and 2011. Barrios en Lucha tried to
bring together the diversity of problems and militant struggles around the housing
problem, still in notably fragmented manner. Collectives which had come together
during the worse of the housing bubble collaborated through Barrios en Lucha which
also included more traditional neighbourhood associations from peripheral working
class areas such as the Federación de Entidades de Alcosa (FEA) or the neighbours’
association La Bachillera, both embroiled in conicts with the administration. These
and other previously mentioned struggles, come together under the umbrella of
Barrios en Lucha despite a notable diversity of strategies and problems within the
wider framework of housing and habitability.
In 2011, the 15m movement represented a clear turning point in the social response
against the crisis, giving a crucial impetus to local struggles across the whole country.
Initially, the existing structures in Seville did not pay much attention to the rst national
demonstration on Sunday, May 15th, which started the movement. For instance, the
Week of Social Struggle, organised by Barrios en Lucha for that same weekend,
failed to ofcially call for members to attend the demonstration on Sunday. Many of
them did, though, and very soon the local structures of Barrios en Lucha converged
in the street assemblies of 15m. If, at rst, 15m made wide-ranging demands around
issues such as the improvement of the democratic system and a general denounce
of political elites and national economic policies, it did not take long for the movement
to get in touch with the neighbourhoods and converge with the existing struggles.
The critical moment in this process points towards the necessary decentralization
of the general assemblies in encampments all around Spain once the decision to lift
the protest camps had been made. The continuity of the movements was placed in
each neighbourhood and villages so that they could reproduce the assemblies that
took place in the protest camps. In the barrios, the overarching political demands
connected with local and concrete issues. Here, the housing situation presented itself
with the greatest urgency.
In Seville, this process was led mainly by activists from Barrios en Lucha. In the
neighbourhood assemblies previous organisations and traditional activists met a new
generation of protesters mobilised by 15m (Díaz-Parra and Candón-Mena, 2014),
Barrios en Lucha was succeeded by the so-called Housing Commission of the 15m
movement. The new Housing Commission integrated all previously mentioned social
movements, the main organisations which had worked on the housing question in the
last decade (Liga de Inquilinos, APDHA, ACS and some others) and other platforms
of neighbours from the working-class periphery of the city. It became a co-ordinating
space for most politically active people around housing in Seville.
Nationally, the 15m movement allied itself with the PAH in order to stop evictions in a
new wave of mobilisation that began in Madrid on the 15th of July. The practice that
was repeated in other cities. In that same week, protest actions bringing together
activists from 15m and the PAH managed to halt a number of evictions in different
Spanish cities (Díaz, 2011). On July 19th, as part of a new strategy within the 15m
movement activists began the occupation of abandoned, clearly linking 15m to the
okupa movement. In Zaragoza, a mass demonstration ended with the occupation of
a building belonging to a bank with the intention to turn it into the headquarters of the
post-encampment 15m movement in the city. However, activists were evicted shortly
afterwards. A longer-lasting experience took place in Cádiz where the indignados
took over the Valcarcel baroque palace. These types of actions were to continue
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
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in the autumn of 2011 when the global demonstration of October 15th ended with
nearly simultaneous occupations of buildings in Madrid (Hotel Madrid) and Barcelona
(Edici 15O). Also, already existing squatted social centres acted from the beginning
as meeting places and support centres for protesters. Occupation meant an addition
to the repertoire of confrontation displayed by 15m, pointing towards inuence of the
squatting movement and foregrounding the strategy of intervening to halt evictions,
on the one hand, and rehousing the displaced people on the other.
After the most visible phase of 15m and its large mobilisations (May, 15th and the
ensuing camps; June 19th and October 15th demonstrations; and the May 12th-15th 2012
commemoration of the 15m anniversary), the struggle turned progressively towards local
issues, particularly towards halting evictions which ended up becoming a trademark of
the movement after 2011. Due to the worsening of the crisis and the spectacular rise in
unemployment, objective conditions favoured intensication in the struggles for housing
which were also encouraged by empowerment and accumulated experience.
In Seville, the Housing Commission held its rst public event with a call-out for a
demonstration against evictions in October 2011. This demonstration ended with the
occupation of Mercado Provisional de la Encarnación, situated right next to the plaza
where the 15m camp was settled few months back. This occupation would be evicted
relatively quickly, without giving activists time to make real use of the space. On the
other hand, the movement in Seville had been issuing calls to halt evictions since the
month of July. After October, this activity began to be organised directly from the Housing
Commission and/or from the different 15m assemblies in the city neighbourhoods. An
eviction halted on December 1st 2011 in Torreblanca, a peripheral working-class area,
was particularly relevant, as it was attended by a great number of neighbours.
A phase of structure consolidation ensued, which included organizing a network of
informative points called Puntos de Información sobre Vivienda y Encuentro [Housing
advisory service and meeting point, PIVE] where a lawyer and several 15m activists
would offer legal counselling and information to concerned neighbours. It is important
to point out that the rst of these PIVEs is in fact the already mentioned housing
advice service offered by the Liga de Inquilinos and located in the neighbours’ centre
of El Pumarejo, which had been running since 2003. It was actually this model which
was replicated in the subsequent PIVEs.
In February 2012, the Housing Commission called a press conference where
it presented a statement on the number and distribution of evictions in the city,
announcing at the same time the founding of the tenth PIVE. Later on, they would
reach a total number of thirteen that year, spread across the metropolitan area and
different neighbourhoods in Seville. It is through the actions in these PIVEs that the
rst groups of people severely affected by housing problems, including mortgage
holders threatened with eviction, tenants who cannot meet their rent payments and
people who have already been evicted, began to form.
Very soon, also the Seville movement would begin the collective occupation of empty
buildings (mainly new, unsold blocks of ats with bankrupt developers) in order to
rehouse evicted families. In May of 2012, with the support of the local 15m assembly,
a total of 38 families’ squatted four empty buildings owned by a bank, naming it Corrala
Utopia5. The example spread and on June 5th ve families decided to occupy Corrala
5 The occupation and later eviction at Corrala Utopía provoked signicant tensions within the regio-
nal government in Andalusia, then a coalition between PSOE and IU. The eviction was used as
an excuse by the regional president Susana Díaz (PSOE) in order to relieve Elena Cortés (IU) of
her position as Housing Minister resulting later on in the fall of the coalition government.
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
• 115 •
Conde Quintana; in August, another ve families opened up Corrala La Alegria, the
only one which was to be evicted only a month later. In the following months, three
more Corralas were opened in the municipal boundary of Seville, and another four in
the metropolitan area, housing a total of 145 families with the support of the PIVEs
and the barrio assemblies of 15m.
To date, the Corralas remains the last signicant episode in a long struggle for
decent housing in the city of Seville. Corralas became spaces where the okupa
movement, neighborhood associations, new 15m activists and movements for decent
housing converged and collaborated in a number of ways. After the evictions, public
demonstrations and collective action regarding decent housing in the city remained
low partly coinciding with the end of a long active sequence of mobilization and also
in the wake of institutional action regarding housing by Podemos and other local
initiatives such as Participa en Sevilla which would bring together many of the activists
involved with the corralas. Nonetheless, high rent prices and the emergence of Airbnb
have since then accelerated gentrication and touristication in Seville, promoting
in turn the apparition of edgling social initiatives such as the CACTUS collective
(Fernández, Hernández and Barragán, 2019).
5. Interconnected movements
The review of the recent history of housing struggles in Seville is intended to act as
a nexus allowing us to connect different movements in order to explore our main
hypothesis, that is, the existence of a long cycle of mobilisation for housing going
further than concrete, isolated episodes of mobilisation.
The interconnectedness between apparently independent movements takes various
forms. First, there is a transfer of activists between movements. Throughout their
political trajectory, the same activists reappear in many of the movements we have
mentioned, accumulating experience and practical skills along the way. A signicant
number of organisations also maintain their commitment to tackling housing problems
throughout different movements and political contexts. Arguments and slogans born
in the context of a particular movement are re-used in later ones. Therefore, several
groups share common cultural frames, a collective memory, as well as modular forms
of action which are repeated.
As we have seen, in the struggles for housing in Seville, both squatting and tenant
activists would swell later on the ranks of new movements, such as Vivienda Digna or
15m. Sevillian activists have participated in various occupations of social centres; the
same ones took active part in the assemblies of the movement for Vivienda Digna;
later on, they would be there in the occupation of squares by the 15m movements;
they participated and promoted the Corralas.
Meeting spaces also play a signicant part in maintaining continuity among different
movements. The CSOA Sin Nombre, opened up by the squatting movement,
held local assemblies for Vivienda Digna. The Housing Commission and some
neighbourhood assemblies of the 15m movement are frequently held in the ofces of
associations from the old neighbours’ movement. Spaces like the neighbours’ centre
of El Pumarejo or the ofces of APDHA have held press conferences about future
housing mobilisations, popular actions against evictions and other related events.
Practical skills used by activists in specic instances of mobilisations were previously
used in other contexts. Technical skills learned by activists in the okupa movement,
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
• 116 •
from forcing a lock to installing electricity and water, have been used later on in the
occupation of San Bernardo 52 or in the new Corralas after 15m. Over the years,
lawyers close to these movements have accumulated knowledge about the specic
laws which penalize squatting. Such experience has been key, for instance, when it
came to maintaining a network of legal advice and counselling centres during the 15m
movement. Social workers and architects working within the movements have also
acquired useful knowledge over time in relation to aspects such as the best way to
deal with people who have been evicted or the need to establish safety standards in
occupied buildings. Activist use of information and communication technologies, used
mostly from Vivienda Digna onwards, becomes key at 15m, for instance in order to
issue anonymous calls to action through social networking sites.
Another important conuence points towards political discourses and the slogans used
in each movement. We have already mention the slogan ‘Qué pasa, qué pasa, que
no tenemos casa’ (What’s up, what’s up, we don’t have a house), popularized by the
movement for Vivienda Digna, but which also commonly heard in 15m demonstrations.
The cultural framework used by Vivienda Digna, anchored in a particular demand for
the compliance with article 47 of the Spanish Constitution, is used subsequently by
15m in order to halt evictions in the Corralas. The discursive frame of reference used
by APDHA, and centred in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, would be
used later on as a different line of against the eviction in the Corralas. In the area of
concrete demands, the squatting of empty homes, demanding their use in exchange
for a social rent, was also put forward previously by activists during the occupation
of San Bernardo 52, and again would be used later on as the main demand of the
families in the Corralas.
The construction of identities has an accumulative effect, creating new aesthetic forms
and different ways to understand collective action. It was the movement for Vivienda
Digna which initiated the tendency to assume more open identities in an attempt to
connect with a wider public. This would be later on a conscious task of the organizers of
15m which appealed to normal people of different ideological orientations. Citizen-based
and reformist tendencies would create reticence among collectives of a more radical
nature. Slowly at rst, faster after the 15m decentralization process to the barrios, the
movement would increasingly incorporate a more recognizably leftist discourse.
Posterior episodes of mobilisation would also create a number of structures later
incorporated to new social movements. The PAH is paradigmatic in this respect. At
rst, it mostly incorporated activists from the declining movement for Vivienda Digna
and, after years of silent struggle, these same activists would attract a greater deal
of attention through 15m, as they received the support of assemblies. The whole
process resulted in many more activists joining ranks of the PAH and also in the
growth of many local organisations concerned by housing issues. Successive waves
of mobilisation therefore tend create and consolidate specic organisations and useful
structures of mobilisation which would, in turn, promote future social action and the
integration of new activists.
Table II shows patterns of interaction between most mentioned collectives based
on the participation of activists who identied themselves as members of several
organizations. Although the Housing Commission ended up coordinating most of the
housing movement in Seville, particularly since the emergence of the rst corals,
several organizations opted not to join, mostly working class neighbour associations
that worked with Barrios en Lucha. Nonetheless, the table shows a strong connection
between different collectives and a high number of shared members.
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
• 117 •
Table II. Interaction between collectives through common membership
Squat X X X X
HC: Housing Commission; VD: Vivienda Digna; LI: Liga de Inquilinos; Squat: Squatting Move-
ment; ACS: Arquitectura y Compromiso Social; APDH: Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de
Andalucía; BL: Barrios en Lucha; PAH: Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca; NP: Working
class neighbourhoods´ platforms
Table III collates the lifespan of the main squatted social centres and the periods of
activity of some of the aforementioned organisations in the period between 1991 and
2012. It shows a clear continuity in the different struggles for housing, one articulated
around different spaces and collectives which did manage to maintain interaction
during intermediate periods (Liga de Inquilinos, ACS or different CSOAs, for instance)
and beneted from the contribution of new activists and novel structures during
periods of greater activity.
Table III. Timeline of collectives for housing and squatted social centres
91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
- CSOA Cruz Verde - El Lokal - CSOA Casas Viejas
-Arquitectura y Compromiso Social
-Liga de Iniquilinos La Corriente
- CSOA Sin Nombre
- Huerto del Rey Moro
- Centro Vecinal Pumarejo
- Vi-
- Barrios en
- 15m Housing
Anduli • Revista Andaluza de Ciencias Sociales Nº 21 - 2022
• 118 •
6. Conclusions
This research has demonstrated a continuity in struggles for housing, taking the city of
Seville as a case-study. As we have seen, such continuity manifests itself in multiple
forms, from the transfer of activists to the composition of the main co-ordinating
structures in each movement, the use of shared slogans, demands and cultural frames
(used and re-used in new phases of mobilisation) and the accumulation of knowledge
and practical experience that is put to use in different movements over time.
Along with Tarrow, it is possible to identify different ‘cycles of protest’ in the examined
case-study, such as the movement for Vivienda Digna or the more widely well-known
15m movement. However, considering mostly Melluci and Klandermans’ contributions,
it is also possible to argue for the existence of a long cycle of mobilisation around
housing issues where previous cycles of protest represent visible stages in a wider
movement that remains latent during intermediate periods. Along with Mellucci, we
can then apply the concept of ‘submerged networks’ to, for instance, the national
activity of the PAH since its founding in 2009 up to its renewed line of action from 2011
onwards. In this light, Barrios en Lucha (2008-2011) represents a nexus between a
declining Vivienda Digna movement in 2008 up to the emergence of the 15m Housing
Commission in 2011. Moreover, different CSOAs seem also to have played a pivotal
role within this long cycle of mobilisation, as they represent a crucial reference point
for activists at different moments in time and set a clear precedent for actions such as
the occupation of the Corralas.
Although the intermediate collectives developed a continuous activity at local
level during the examined period, it is undoubtedly in the period of greater social
relevance, and in a propitious context dened by a rampant economic crisis and by
the loss of legitimacy among political institutions, when initiatives around housing
issue gained public recognition and managed to connect more successfully with
the population, attracting new activists. Considering this, we can take Melucci’s
denition of latent and activity phases in order to analyse the activities of a number
of collectives in different temporal periods as part of a general housing movement in
the city of Seville. Intermediate activities undertaken by these collectives contributed
to what Klandermans denes as ‘formation of consensus’, as a multitude of open
seminars, debates and conversations between activists created then a fertile ground
for posterior instances of mass mobilisations. In turn, periods of maximum activity
reinforced consensus and provided activists and local collectives with enough energy
to continue their activities after a decline in the mobilisation cycle.
We therefore consider our initial hypothesis to be correct. In Seville, a general housing
movement has managed to maintain for years the confrontation with governing elites.
Movements like Vivienda Digna or 15m did indeed decline; however, this does not
imply their complete disappearance, as their practices, political ideas and structures
of mobilization were to resurface once new structures of political opportunity, objective
conditions and the general context made it possible.
Authors’ contributions
Concept and design, Jose Candón-Mena and Ibán Díaz-Parra; Methodology, Jose
Candón-Mena and David Montero-Sánchez; Data collection, Jose Candón-Mena and
Ibán Díaz-Parra; Analysis and interpretation, Jose Candón-Mena, Ibán Díaz-Parra
and David Montero-Sánchez; Preparation of the original draft, Jose Candón-Mena
and Ibán Díaz-Parra; Revision and editing, David Montero-Sánchez; Translation,
David Montero-Sánchez.
Artículos • José Candón Mena, Ibán Díaz Parra, David Montero Sánchez
• 119 •
This research was funded by the R&D Project “Cyberactivism, Digital Citizenship
and New Urban Movements” (CiberMov). Programa Estatal de Fomento de la
Investigación Cientíca y Técnica de Excelencia, Subprograma Estatal de Generación
de Conocimiento del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Ref: CSO2016-
78386-P). FEDER funds.
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