Between Revolution and Defeat: Student Protest Cycles and Networks



This article reviews the literature on student protest movements, during and after the mass mobilisations of the 1960s. It considers the usefulness of the major social movement frameworks that have been applied to student protest movements. The first part of the article explains how the new social movement paradigm developed from the wave of 1960s protests in the United States and Europe. This was because of a rare conjunction of social and political structural societal changes and dynamics within the student population. The second part considers student protest movements in authoritarian regimes. In particular, how the political process approach allows for an analysis of student protests after the 1960s within and outside of the occident. The third considers the relatively recent application of social network analysis to student protests and the politicising effect of the university campus. Finally, the article concludes by arguing that student protest movements are not a homogenous phenomenon. Their dynamics and the political structures they challenge vary between countries. Furthermore, although the conditions of student life and the rapid turnover of generations suggest sustained long-term political activity is not possible, recent research drawing upon social network analysis suggests political activity across student generations may be maintained.