Workshop: Social Media and #USSStrikes

The unprecedented wave of strike action across UK universities earlier in 2018 raises many questions for the sociology of higher education. To what extent was the strike part of a wider set of mobilisations against austerity, on the one hand, and the workings out of neoliberal policies shaping public institutions, on the other? What were the conditions which made these actions so effective? And crucially for this one day workshop, what roles did social media play in generating momentum, and does the expanding regulation of social media create problems for these forms of mobilisation?

9:30am to 10:00am: Welcome and introductions
10am to 10:45am: The relationship between the physicality of collective picket line action and the parallel virtual (collective) activity on social media (Steve Watson)
10:45am to 11:30am: Psychological effects of participation in the strike (Sara Vestergren)
11:30am to 12:15pm: (Not) another brick in the wall? Social media, social movements, and limits of performativity (Jana Bacevic)
12:15pm to 1:00pm: Lunch
1:00pm to 1:45pm: Social Media and Critical University Studies: Issues of Academic Freedom (Eric Lybeck)
1:45pm to 2:30pm: LEGOVC: a 101 meme boxset of slightly soiled, offensively charming, telenovela-style, factually inaccurate, toy-based, pension-peeved docu-dramedy (Ian Cook)
2:30pm to 3:15pm: The Epistemic Context for USS Briefs (Warren Pearce)
3:15pm to 3:30pm: Coffee break
3:30pm to 4:15pm: How the USS dispute democratised information (Jo Grady)
4:15pm to 5:00pm: Jamming the medium and opening archives (Felicity Callard)
5:00pm to 5:30pm: Possible next steps

We have a few places left so if you’d like to take part please get in touch with a few details about yourself and your interest in the event. It will take place on August 7th in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge.

The USS strike and the winter of academics’ discontent

Long read from Times Higher Education featuring commentary from our member, Dr Jana Bacevic. Read the full article here

“Pensions became a potent – if somewhat unlikely – symbol for how academic leaders imagine the development of higher education: high-risk investment in the ‘student experience’ and declining investment in people,” explains Jana Bacevic, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education.

Bacevic, a sociologist who during the strikes helped to organise “teach-outs” on the effects of neoliberalisation on higher education, believes that the discontent over pensions cannot be separated from academics’ “visceral experience of the declining quality of working conditions” caused by the growing marketisation.

“For those working at universities, the USS scandal destroyed the vestiges of the myth that precarity at present can lead to security in the future,” she says. “The remarkable solidarity between academic staff and students can be seen as a collective effort to reclaim that future.”

The proposed move to a more uncertain pension plan and UUK’s failure to understand why this was so unpalatable to academics merely underline the gulf between academics and management, Bacevic adds. “There is a growing realisation that employers view academics and the things that they value – job security, time to reflect and research, and decent retirement conditions – as a liability rather than an asset.”


Introducing the CPGJ Working Paper Series

The CPGJ Cluster invites PhD students and staff within the Education Faculty to submit working papers for a new series edited by Susan Robertson, Mark Carrigan and Jana Bacevic. These provide an opportunity to publish work immediately, making it easily accessible and able to be distributed. We hope in this way to open out the knowledge production process, inviting wider participation while highlighting the work being undertaken within the faculty. Rather than relying on commercial platforms such as Academia.Edu or Research Gate, our working paper series allows works in progress and pre-prints to be hosted within our own intellectual community.

If you are interested in submitting a working paper then please contact Mark Carrigan ( to discuss in the first instance. We have a broad sense of the themes of the cluster, displayed on the ‘about’ page, but nonetheless request working papers be directly relevant to these. We can also advise about the considerations for different forms of submission e.g. early iterations of a piece of work as opposed to self-archiving of work which has been accepted for publication.