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The politics of student movements : a case study of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus.

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Student protests have been escalating in South Africa for decades owing to the disgruntlement of students at the country‘s universities. The literature indicates that socioeconomic backgrounds influence students to strike and protest at universities. Although there has been a tendency of students to use political tactics against the illegitimacy of the apartheid regime in the past in South Africa, it is clear that currently, student politics are more concerned about issues which directly affect the student community. Resource Mobilisation theory, Social Identity theory and Racial Identity theory provide powerful explanations for UKZN students to mobilise for protest. These approaches explain why group identification functions as an unavoidable inspiration for a politicised identity. This study discovered interesting stories about student politics, organizations, and protest at UKZN by capturing and offering a comprehensive picture of what happened at and the causes of protest actions at Howard College campus in 2014. A qualitative methodology was used for data collected in the study, which discovered how students make sense of their identities and the experiences they have in mobilisation and protests and the analysis of data was done thematically. The sample of the study drawn from the UKZN SRC members and other student organisations, blamed the lack of adequate student funding and broader university conditions as a provocation to the student body to mobilise for protest. This study found that during student protest, student movements‘ leaders were primarily responsible for mobilisation for the protest action. Research participants related their experiences and disclosed the strategies they utilised during mobilisation. The persistence of students‘ collective demonstrations since apartheid can be linked to a persistence of the encounters which university students continue to confront. Unlike during the apartheid period, research participants acknowledge racial identity as an irrelevant element in unity within and between student movements. For the purposes of this research, semi-structured face-to-face interviews were used to obtain data from participants. The research participants gave the impression that protests cannot be avoided through negotiations but only through providing the required services to all students.


Master of Social Sciences in Political Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2015.


University of KwaZulu-Natal -- Politics and government -- Students., Student movements -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Student strikes -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal., Theses -- Political science.