Mobilization – Organization – Instituionalization Students As Political Actors in Kenya

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Anna DEUTSCHMANN, Universität Wien, Austria
Students in various African countries have been provoking political transformations since the beginning of the struggle for independence. The political influence of students is often mentioned as an important factor but seldom systematically investigated in detail (Zeilig/Ansell 2008). Sometimes student activism leads to the formation of student movements and influences political change. This change induces a transformation of the actors themselves and is reflected by the modification of protest, different modes of organization and activism respectively.

Rammstedt (1978) classified this process of transformation of social movements in phases. The institutionalization and integration into the social structure are results of this process. Establishment or integration is discussed by several social movement researchers (cf. Snow/Soule/Kriesi 2004:8). Following McAdam there are relevant dimensions for the rise and success of social movements, such as openness of political institutions, consensus of elites, existence of allies, and the degree of repression of the state (cf. Meyer 2004). Especially the tension between students and state influences the formation of activism. For instance, student unrest in the 1960s is described by Balsvik (1998) as being rooted in the relation between universities and the state, which was characterized by mistrust and disappointment. Student’s expectations that the state would facilitate living and education conditions, as well as their future employment opportunities remained unfulfilled. This discontent is still an influential factor in present waves of protest.

Students present one civil society actor among other components of a differentiated and complex civil society structure. On the basis of interviews with (former) student activists I analyze the internal and external development, modes of organization as well as personal and professional opportunities for student activists. The paper analyses the political mobilization, the organization and institutionalization of student’s political activism in Kenya.