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#EAIR2019 Programme

#EAIR2019 Programme

Processes underlying student disempowerment: the role of mass media discourse



Governance and the Responsible University


Jelle Mampaey et al, Open University, the Netherlands (Netherlands)

Single presentation - 30 Minutes

August 27, 2019 at 2:30:00 PM



Stakeholder empowerment—and student empowerment in particular—is increasingly emphasized as a key value in higher education policies. From a critical perspective, it is however highly questionable whether students are actually empowered in the context of widespread market-oriented reforms in higher education. In this paper, we explore some mechanisms underlying the disempowerment of students. In specific, we focus on the repression of contemporary student protest against market-oriented reforms in higher education. Theoretically, we draw on an extended version of the Public Nuisance Paradigm, a theoretical paradigm that emphasizes the role of mass media discourse in the repression of social protest. We illustrate our argument in a case study of the 2014 student protest against a market-oriented reform in Flemish higher education, that is, higher tuition fees. We identify four specific discursive strategies underlying the repression of this student protest through mass media discourse: authorization, rationalization, moralization and predication. The major contribution of our study is that it extends the Public Nuisance Paradigm that has been introduced in the recent higher education literature focused on student movements.

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