Contesting Higher EducationStudent Movements against Neoliberal Universities

Contesting Higher EducationStudent Movements against Neoliberal Universities

Donatella Della Porta, Lorenzo Cini, and César Guzmán-Concha

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9781529208627

Publisher: Policy Press


This close investigation of student protests represents the first comparative review of the subject. Setting the wave of demonstrations within the contexts of student activism, social issues, and political movements, the book casts new light on their impact on higher education and on the broader society. The book begins with an overview of the analysis of transformation in higher education (HE) policies and student politics, linking them to research on the policy outcomes of social movements. HE policies have been shaped by various waves of student mobilization. Students have often been important actors in contentious politics, mobilizing on all main cleavages in society and often stimulating spin-off movements, as well as affecting institutional politics at large. Student protests are therefore affected by public policies at least as much as they affect them. The book focuses on these complex interactions, aiming at understanding the development of student protests within neoliberal universities. It explores four episodes of student contestation over HE reforms, which have recently taken place in Chile, Quebec, England, and Italy. In light of the findings, the book reflects on the impacts of neoliberal policies in contentious politics and point at the relevance of coalitions for a sustained impact of mobilization campaigns. The discussion also points toward the student movements' effects in terms of empowerment, the triggering of spill-over movements, and transformations in electoral and party politics. Offering sophisticated new theoretical arguments based on fascinating empirical work, the insights and conclusions revealed in this study are of value to anyone with an interest in social, political, and related studies.