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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Successful student activism in contemporary Italian universities

Lorenzo Cini

This article assesses the strategies that the Italian student activists adopted in order to influence the revision process of the governance structure of their universities in 2011

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017

This article assesses the strategies that the Italian student activists adopted in order to influence the revision process of the governance structure of their universities in 2011. Which kind of strategy has enabled these activists to influence more successfully this process? I argue that the joint pressure of insiders and outsiders allows student activists to get their voice more effectively heard from the university leaders than when one of the two forms of pressure is absent. The ‘power of the streets’ exerted by the ‘outsiders’, combined with the institutional power of the ‘insiders’, produces a significant amplifying effect in the governing bodies. University leaders fear this kind of alliance, as they perceive that insiders with a strong tie with other actors are the expression of a collective voice that is difficult to neutralize. On the other hand, the outsiders are also aware that their collective strength is more likely to be translated into institutional power and action from their allies and/or representatives. To empirically probe this proposition, I have singled out three Italian universities (University of Turin, Sapienza of Rome, and Federico II of Naples), which witnessed high levels of student mobilization in the past years (2008–13), and where student activists and their organizations adopted the most different array of strategies. More specifically, while at the University of Turin the student activists were able to deploy simultaneously both forms of pressure, at the Federico II of Naples and Sapienza of Rome one of the two forms was lacking.

Cini, L. (2017). Successful student activism in contemporary Italian universities. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica, 1-22. doi:10.1017/ipo.2017.12

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/54844D9407239A9142C0093D52CFEA45/S0048840217000120a.pdf/successful_student_activism_in_contemporary_italian_universities.pdf

News

13/12/2017

Call for Paper: Conference “1968-2018, fifty years after: Where is the social movements field going?”

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Taking the 1968 anniversary as a stimulating moment for reflection, this conference seeks to provide space for looking at the implications of that period on social movement research as well as addressing a number of key questions in current social movement research.

04/12/2017

Martin Portos Garcia wins the ISA's Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists

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The International Sociological Association has just announced the list of the winners of the Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists engaged in social research, amongst which Martin Portos Garcia - post-doc fellow at COSMOS

10/11/2017

Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities

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We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities, sponsored by the Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities project (EURYKA) and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

Repertoires of knowledge practices: Social movements in times of crisis

Donatella della Porta and Elena Pavan
Starting from the assumption that knowledge becomes all the more important for movements in times of crisis, as old structures are challenged and new ones envisaged and proved feasible, the purpose of this paper is to suggest ways to expand the toolkit of social movement studies in order to empirically address knowledge practices as a meaningful part of contemporary progressive activism.

Journal Article - 2017

’Solidarietà sconvenienti’. Reti online di estrema destra contro e per la riforma dell’Europa

Elena Pavan and Manuela Caiani
By focusing on the websites of extreme right organizations in six European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and by making a combined use of digital research tools and social network analysis, we explore how extreme right organizations make a strategic use of ICTs to connect in the online space and the arguments they move forward to criticize and reform current projects of European integration. Our results suggest that ICTs sustain the construction of inconvenient solidarities in heterogeneous ways, supporting different modes of online conversations amongst extreme right websites which, in turn, affect their capacity to propose shared critiques and proposals to reform the European Union.