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Towards a sociology of political non-participation: mapping student activism networks and counter networks in the 2010/11 protests against fees and cuts

Title
Towards a sociology of political non-participation: mapping student activism networks and counter networks in the 2010/11 protests against fees and cuts
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Dr Alexander Hensby # University of Kent; Hosted by: Sociology # University of Edinburgh
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
1st Nov 2017 11:00 - 1st Nov 2017 12:00
Location
1st floor practice suite (CMB 1.12)
URL
http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/events/seminar_series/2017_2018/towards_a_sociology_of_political_non-participation_mapping_student_activism_networks_and_counter_networks_in_the_201011_protests_against_fees_and_cuts

University students possess arguably unparalleled opportunities to convert their political interests and grievances into forms of participation, but this presentation shows that the majority do not get involved. Drawing on case study research into the 2010/11 UK student protests against fees and cuts, this presentation will highlight the key social paths and barriers to political participation today. These paths and barriers – which include an individual’s family socialisation, network positioning, and group identification – help us explain why some people convert their political sympathies and interests into action, and why others do not.

Drawing on an original survey dataset of students (n=2485), results provide an overview of different participatory and non-participatory patterns across 22 UK universities. Taking this further, interviews with 56 students reveal how family background and network positioning on campus shaped their engagement in the fees campaign, leading to different participatory outcomes. Results uncover the key social pathways that facilitate students’ commitment to more radical, high-cost forms of activism, but this presentation also proposes new concepts for understanding how non-participation is socially produced and sustained in everyday life. This includes the counter-networks that shape and constrain an individual’s decision-making, as well as the narratives of dis-identification and self-preservation that collectively legitimise their non-participation.

Pile of old wooden structures