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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Student Struggles and Power Relations in Contemporary Universities. The Cases of Italy and England

Lorenzo Cini

The chapter sheds light on the type of institutional response that the recent student mobilizations in England and Italy set in motion locally. While this topic has been relatively widely researched in the US, the same cannot be said about Europe. To date, no study has been carried out on the institutional reaction to student activism within individual universities. How do individual universities react to student mobilizations? What kind of strategies does the university establishment adopt? This chapter aims to assess and compare the counter strategies that the leadership of some Italian and English universities adopted in facing the student mobilizations that occurred within them.

Type: Chapter in edited book
Year: 2016

Social movement scholars have generally disregarded the study of mobilizations within institutions. Even less well-studied are the effects that such mobilizations provoke. This is precisely the topic that the present chapter investigates. More specifically, the chapter sheds light on the type of institutional response that the recent student mobilizations in England and Italy set in motion locally. While this topic has been relatively widely researched in the US, the same cannot be said about Europe. To date, no study has been carried out on the institutional reaction to student activism within individual universities. How do individual universities react to student mobilizations? What kind of strategies does the university establishment adopt? This chapter aims to assess and compare the counter strategies that the leadership of some Italian and English universities adopted in facing the student mobilizations that occurred within them. My hypothesis is that type of leadership makes a difference in terms of institutional response. That is to say, academic leaders tend to be more interested in restoring the conditions ensuring a good environment for teaching and research than challenging student protesters on their terrain. This leads such leaders to be more eager to negotiate and compromise with internal challengers. By contrast, academic managers, whose principal objective is to make their universities highly competitive within the market of higher education, are generally more concerned about neutralizing potential challengers, who might damage the reputation and functioning of the university. In dealing with student mobilizations, then, academic managers are more likely to be confrontational and repressive than academics. Building on this first understanding of the differences between the English and Italian systems, the research questions that I will attempt to answer in the present chapter are the following: were there any differences in terms of institutional response between Italian and English universities when they were faced with student mobilizations? If there were, how can such differences be explained?

Brooks R., Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives, London: Routledge, 2016

News

08/06/2017

Call for Papers - Cosmos Conference "The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Student Movements in Late Neoliberalism"

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The Centre on Social Movement Studies, directed by Professor Donatella Della Porta, calls for papers addressing the recent global wave of student protests for a two-days conference to bel held in Florence, at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS), on 15-16 November 2017.

19/05/2017

Video available for the International Conference – Beyond Borders: Refugees and Struggles in Europe Mobilization, Solidarity and Political Challenges in the Long Summer of Migration

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Watch the video of the International Conference – Beyond Borders, which was held at Palazzo Strozzi on May 12, 2017

19/05/2017

Marco Deseriis wins Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government

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Dr. Marco Deseriis, Marie Curie Fellow and Research Fellow at Cosmos, has won the Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government (Danube University, Krems Au Donau, Austria)

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

The Electoral Success of the Radical Left: Explaining the Least Likely Case of the Communist Party in Graz

Manès Weisskircher
Recently, scholars have shown a growing interest in radical left parties (RLPs). In terms of electoral success, the rise of the KPÖ Graz, the Communist Party in Austria’s second biggest city, represents perhaps the most counterintuitive case in Western Europe. This analysis shows how the party has managed to ‘own’ the issue of housing and to exploit local political opportunities in order to be electorally successful. The findings point to the importance of agency and the subnational level for RLPs, and highlight more general questions in the study of this party family.

Journal Article - 2017

Non-deliberative politics in deliberative democracy: distinct approaches for different actors

Andrea Felicetti
In this paper Andrea Felicetti first illustrates the main ideas of the systemic turn, explores the distinction between ‘deliberative’ and ‘non-deliberative’ politics and investigates the main arguments justifying non-deliberative politics. Then, he builds upon these arguments to shed new light on the relationship between deliberative and non-deliberative politics. He identifies three distinctive actors in deliberative systems (political institutions, empowered agents, and public space actors). Finally, he argues that deliberative democrats should adopt three different approaches (intensive, moderate, and free) in order to assess whether the use of non-deliberative politics by each of these actors is legitimate.