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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

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.