The contentious politics of higher education : struggles and power relations within the English and Italian universities
Title: The contentious politics of higher education : struggles and power relations within the English and Italian universities
Author: CINI, Lorenzo
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2016
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
Movement scholars have generally overlooked the study of mobilizations within institutions. Even less known are the effects that mobilizations within institutions provoke. By combining field theory and social movement approach, my thesis aims to shed light on the variety of institutional impacts that the recent global wave of student mobilizations has produced within some Italian and English universities. More notably, I have looked at the way and to what extent student mobilizations have brought about changes in the university life in terms of student services and facilities, courses and curricula reorganization, and governance structure. To explore it, I have singled out three English (University of Birmingham, Sussex University, and University College of London) and three Italian universities (University of Turin, Sapienza of Rome, and Federico II of Naples), which have witnessed high levels of student mobilization over the past years (2008/2013). Have these mobilizations produced an impact within the university field? My argument is that the institutional context of universities does matter in explaining the variety and diversity of impacts that such mobilizations have brought about. The type and composition of governance affect both the strategies and tactics of the challengers (students), and the responses of the challenged (university leaders). Where universities are still run and governed by academics (Italy), students deploy a larger amount (and variety) of actions, and, thus, have a greater capacity of influence. Professors are more interested in restoring the conditions ensuring a good environment for teaching and research than challenging student protesters on their terrain. Academics are more eager to negotiate and compromise. By contrast, where universities are governed by academic managers (England), students have less tactics and strategies at their disposal and, thus, a minor capacity of influence. Managers are much more concerned than academics in neutralizing potential challengers and threats that damage the reputation and functioning of their universities.
Defence date: 10 February 2016; Examining Board: Prof Donatella della Porta, SNS/formerly EUI (supervisor); Prof Rachel Brooks, University of Surrey; Prof László Bruszt, EUI; Prof Nick Crossley, University of Manchester.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess