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Revista iberoamericana de educación superior

On-line version ISSN 2007-2872


BRUNNER, José-Joaquín; GANGA-CONTRERAS, Francisco  and  LABRANA-VARGAS, Julio. University and social protest: a reflection from Chile. Rev. iberoam. educ. super [online]. 2020, vol.11, n.32, pp.3-22.  Epub Feb 10, 2021. ISSN 2007-2872.

Since October 2019, Chile experienced an intense social protest, which was later overcome by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This essay explores the causes of the protest and the role of universities in times of crisis. It draws on concepts from the sociology of higher education and makes use of secondary data from public debate, the press, government agency reports, and from case study observations as well. The author concludes that the protest was caused by a gap between the expectations of participation in the benefits of capitalist modernization, mobilized by the massification of higher education, and the satisfactions generated by the state and the society as a whole. In this context, the universities have debated between withdrawing from the social struggles, yielding to them or contributing to overcoming the crisis from their own institutional rationality.

Keywords : Chile; higher education; role of the university; middle class; social conflicts.

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