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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Italian Students as a Political Actor. The Policy Impact of the Recent Student Mobilizations in the Field of Higher Education

Lorenzo Cini

After decades of political passivity, Italian students have massively mobilized in the years 2008 and 2010 to protest the implementation of two political measures fostering a neoliberal conception of higher education. Despite a high rate of participation, none of the two mobilizations managed to alter the political course of events. Why was this the case? My argument is that organizationally and politically fragmented protests are not able to influence policy issues that have a low public relevance, especially in periods of economic crisis and political austerity.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017

After decades of political passivity, Italian students have massively mobilized in the years 2008 and 2010 to protest the implementation of two political measures fostering a neoliberal conception of higher education. More notably, the casus belli of these mobilizations concerned the implementation of a financial measure cutting public funding for higher education in 2008, accompanied by a New Public Management (NPM) reform of university governance in 2010. Despite a high rate of participation, none of the two mobilizations managed to alter the political course of events. The Italian government approved and implemented the two measures and the Italian student movement lost this political battle. In short, recent student mobilizations failed to produce any policy impact on the Italian field of higher education. Why was this the case? My argument is that organizationally and politically fragmented protests are not able to influence policy issues that have a low public relevance, especially in periods of economic crisis and political austerity. I contend that this was precisely the case of the Italian student protests of 2008 and 2010.

L. Cini, 2017, "Italian Students as a Political Actor. The Policy Impact of the Recent Student Mobilizations in the Field of Higher Education", Partecipazione e Conflitto, Issue 1(1) 2017, p. 306-332 (DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v10i1p306)

http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/paco/article/view/17125

News

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Monograph - 2017

Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis

Donatella Della Porta, Francis O'Connor, Martin Portos and Anna Subirats Ribas
Out now "Social movements and referendum from below", the first book that bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilisation in referendums using unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland.