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Networks, counter-networks and political socialisation - paths and barriers to high-cost/risk activism in the 2010/11 student protests against fees and cuts


  • Alexander Hensby


Why might people sympathetic to the goals of a protest campaign choose not to participate? What distinguishes them sociologically from those who do participate? This paper uses the 2010/11 UK student protests as a case study for understanding how contemporary social movements mobilise individuals for high-cost/risk forms of activism participation. The protests saw large-scale regional and national demonstrations take place, along with the formation of a network of simultaneous campus occupations across the UK, presenting a greater scale and diversity of protest participation opportunities than had been seen for a generation. Nevertheless, students' political background and network access remained significant not only for shaping attitudes towards the efficacy and meaningfulness of protest, but also making protest participation appear an 'available' option. This paper uses interviews with participating and non-participating students from four UK universities to explore the range of pathways to mobilisation for national demonstrations and campus occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Hensby, 2014. "Networks, counter-networks and political socialisation - paths and barriers to high-cost/risk activism in the 2010/11 student protests against fees and cuts," Contemporary Social Science, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 92-105, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocxx:v:9:y:2014:i:1:p:92-105
    DOI: 10.1080/21582041.2013.851409

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