The fire next time? Generations, established/outsider groups and South African universities in crisis. Thinking with Elias no. 7

The fire next time?  Introduction to Generations, established/outsider groups and South African universities in crisis. Thinking with Elias no. 7

Please reference as: Liz Stanley (2017) ‘The fire next time; Introduction′ and provide the paragraph number as appropriate when quoting.

  • Introduction
  • Part 1, South African universities in crisis
  • Part 2, Making sense of the crisis
  • Part 3, An Eliasian view of the crisis
  • Part 4, Loverdale riots 1920, 1946 & others
  • Part 5, Comparing student protests, 1920s/50s and 2015/16

 1. Introduction

1. South Africa’s universities have been in crisis, while the character of the crisis and where its origins lie have been and continue to be topics exciting considerable controversy. The crisis has come to public attention internationally largely through media reports of #Hashtag student protests in 2015 and 2016. In South Africa itself many university closures occurred as a result, some of them for months on end, with the streets around the university campuses lurching between a strange emptiness and the eruption of large-scale gatherings and sometimes Ireland protests.

2. What has been happening and why? In what ways are these protests similar to or different from earlier student protests? How do the recent protests connect with South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994? How do these matters look from the viewpoint of the universities themselves? How can these things be analysed and made sense of? And, can the work of Elias help in thinking about these matters?

3. A multi-part WWW investigation of the crisis in South African universities and some of the precursors to this can be accessed from this page.

  • Part 1 takes off fro two recent academic books with different viewpoints on these events. It also provides background information about South Africa’s schools and colleges, including that education in schools is not free and remains marked by many structural inequalities in the system.
  • Part 2 is concerned with the private troubles/public issues aspect of the universities in crisis and discusses both macro and micro matters of relevance.
  • Part 3 draws on the ideas of Elias in interpreting the hows and whys of the student protests; it considers what pointers his work provides for thinking about ‘what now?’ and with what parameters.
  • Part 4 turns attention to earlier student protests, particularly of 1920 and 1946, with those occurring at Lovedale providing an in-depth case study.
  • Part 5 make some comparisons between the students protests of earlier times and those of 2015 and 2016, and also considers what has happened regarding the fees issue in 2017.

4. Non-South Africans should note that the discussions in Parts 2 to 4 of this investigation will not make full sense without the contextual information in Part 1.

Last updated: 13 May 2021