Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Creating an intentionally dialogic space: student activism and the Newcastle Occupation 2010

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Hopkins, Professor Liz ToddORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Dominant discourses tend to represent young people as politically apathetic, disengaged and inert. Yet, in late 2010, tens of thousands of young people across the UK protested against government proposals to change the ways in which higher education is funded. In numerous universities across the country, students occupied buildings, facilitated protests and challenged university leaders to speak out against the proposed changes. At Newcastle University, a group of highly organised students occupied the Fine Art lecture theatre for seventeen days in late 2010 in resistance to these changes. In this paper, we draw upon a detailed analysis of twenty-seven interviews with young people who participated in the Newcastle Occupation, supplemented by participant observation of Occupation meetings. We argue that the student’s created an intentionally dialogic space in the Occupation in a number of ways, including how they organised it, how they used social media and the internet, the actions they participated in, and the ways in which they engaged with the elite. These insights offer an important contribution to debates about young, politics and activism, exemplifying the ways in which the student activists involved in the Newcastle Occupation were sophisticated political agents who strategically and tactfully engaged with political matters.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hopkins P, Todd L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Political Geography

Year: 2015

Volume: 46

Pages: 31-40

Print publication date: 01/05/2015

Online publication date: 12/12/2014

Acceptance date: 20/10/2014

Date deposited: 12/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0962-6298

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5096

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.10.008


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric