SPRINGTIME: The New Student Rebellions | The Socjournal

Ah springtime. The gentle feel of the breeze, the light touch of government cutting, the horrible pain and suffering that results. There’s lots of money out there, trillions in fact, just not in the hands of the people who need it the most. Hey, gotta fund the government bailouts of the rich bankers somehow. Or not. We do live in a democracy after all and protest is an important feature. Here’s a sociological take on a growing world wide phenomenon.

The autumn and winter of 2010 saw an unprecedented wave of student protests across the UK in response to the coalition government’s savage cuts in state funding for higher education – cuts which formed the basis for an ideological attack on the nature of education itself. Involving universities and schools, occupations, sit-ins and demonstrations, these protests spread with remarkable speed.  Middle-class students, teenagers from diverse backgrounds and older activists took part in marches, teach-ins and occupations, and also creative new forms: flashmobs, YouTube dance-offs, and the literal literary resistance of colorful book blocs. These protests spread with wildfire speed, largely organized through an unprecedented use of social media.

The winter of discontent gave rise to a new spirit of rebellion this spring with broader, stronger resistance to austerity measures in other parts of the globe. The UK protests fueled the astonishing events in the Arab world, trade union rallies in Wisconsin on a scale not seen in America since the Vietnam protests, the M26 movement in Spain and massive anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece. Springtime is both an inspiring chronicle and a companion to this movement: “the formulation of an experience” of a generation.

Rather than considering them a series of isolated incidents, Springtime locates student protests in a movement spreading across the entire western world. Since the financial crash of 2008 growing social and political turbulence in the epicenters of capital and beyond have not only broken out, but are occuring in an organized, deliberate fashion. From Athens to Rome, San Francisco to London – and the stunning events in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria that have captured the world’s imagination – students are playing a key role in developing a strong, coherent social and political movement.

Contributions come from those involved in the movement: mainly students, lecturers, and activists, with ‘flashback’ sections looking at student rebellions in history, incisive analysis, communiqués, maps, and photo-essays, Springtime also comes from and looks at events on the ground: the demonstrations and the police tactics of kettling, assault.  A compendium of voices from the frontline, Springtime will become an essential point of reference as the struggle continues.


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