Radically democratising education? New student movements, equality and engagement in common, yet plural, worlds

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This article investigates the relation between democracy and education in the context of radical student activism. Drawing upon participant observation and interviews with left-wing student activists in New Zealand 2012 and 2015, it argues that a one-sided preoccupation with the student activists’ public actions as attempts to unleash disruptive forces of the political risks ignoring the undecidability and profoundly experimental and educative aspects of their activities. By paying attention to the less publicly visible social settings – or ‘free spaces’ – shaped by ideals of flat, horizontal democracy, the article shows how the students continuously mediate their radicality by negotiating and balancing a sense of ‘responsibility to act’ with a sense of ‘responsibility to otherness’. Democratic engagement thereby not only becomes a question of ‘disruptive’ political influence but also comes to revolve around the continuous creation of spaces for collective self-education and experimentation with the conjuring of a common – yet plural – world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Education
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

    Research areas

  • Difference, ethnography, higher education, marginalisation, politics, social justice, student voice, young people

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