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Engagements étudiants contemporains

Contemporary Students involvements

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Published on Tuesday, February 08, 2022


Many studies have taken for object students and their involvements, be they political, associative, unionist, inside and outside organizations. While still suffering from geographical and disciplinary boundaries, this classic object has become shared by the whole spectrum of the social sciences with the accumulation of knowledge, studies and their different approaches these last thirty years. The aim of these workshops will be to explore the multiple definitions that student involvements can cover.



Since the 1960s [Bourdieu et Passeron, 1964], and, in France, even more so since the 1990s [Fave-Bonnet et Clerc, 2001], many studies have taken for object students and their involvements, be they political, associative, unionist, inside and outside organizations [Côme et Morder, 2009]. While still suffering from geographical and disciplinary boundaries, this classic object has become shared by the whole spectrum of the social sciences with the accumulation of knowledge, studies and their different approaches these last thirty years.

With its inclusion in larger fields of research (culture, youth, education, organization public policy, etc.), student involvement is confronted by its definition. The word itself covers both formal and informal organizations as different as social movements or volunteering [Becquet, 2014] as well as the relation students have with their discipline and institution [Thoury, 2017; Stuppia et Haute, 2021]. Furthermore, they do not constitute a fixed group synonymous with “young adulthood” registered in higher education. Not all are “students to the same degree” [Grignon et Gruel, 1999: 11], and not all have the same resources at their disposal enabling the participation (or not) in student politics [Le Mazier, 2014; Legois, Marchal et Morder (coord.), 2020], particularly for the most precarious of them. Covid-19 Pandemic has certainly enhanced these differences.

Spatial dimensions are also primordial: the outcry against the disastrous effects neoliberalism on higher education is recurrent, even more so since the turn of the millennia [collectif ACIDES, 2015], and important disparities between universities of the global north and of the global south persist or worsen [Bessant, Mejia-Mesinas et Pickard (dir.), 2021a] ; and also within the same hemispheres with the heightening privatization, the rising costs such as tuition fees, and also the increasing competitivity within higher education [Bessant, Meja-Mesinas et Pickard (dir.) 2021b]. The word “student” also refers to different realities, such as high school students in some areas and their involvements, be they contentious or not are to be included here.

The aim of these workshops will be to explore the multiple definitions that student involvements can cover starting from these two sets of questions:

Axis 1 – Sociology of contemporary student involvements

In a constantly evolving landscape, the forms taken by student involvements have diversified over the years. First, at the level of the mode of action repertoire: adhesion to a collective (student union, association, peer group…), the investment of student government and the representative body, protest in the now classic form with or without general assemblies, picketing and blocking, coordination’s and such [Legois, Monchablon et Morder, 2007], and other more local and specific forms of involvement. For example, we can think of the opening of student cooperative stores, the creation of language classes destined to help migrants, environmental campaigns that aim to raise awareness about the environment, Firdays For Future and the strong digital activism that is a staple of student culture since the first social networks all the way to the latest hate speech [Ridley, 2021]. More than just the repertories of action, the stakes have also widely changed: human rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, feminist, antiracist, ecological struggles, but also reactionary and neo-nationalist movements [Douglass, 2021]. Therefore, we aim to encourage the renewed interrogation of the repertories of action deployed by students worldwide, be it today or in the past [Morder, 2003], without any idolization of the past or negation of the changes of the social profile of youth in higher education over the last decades [Erlich, 1998; Gallant et Garneau, 2016]. We are particularly interested by context effects and the way in which these changes, involvements and mobilizations are embodied be it during the COVID-19 crisis or in other configurations such as armed conflict and regime change etc.

This first axis also means to question the scientific gaze on student involvements as it seems difficult for one to set aside all biases when one’s study is concerned by the very public and institution they depend on to live (according to status) [do Mar Pereira, 2017]. Reflexive propositions that address this aspect will be welcome.

Axis 2 – Public Policy and Institutional Trends on Student Involvements

In the second axis we aim to welcome studies that look at the same object – student involvements – from the perspective not of the users, and the practices of the students themselves, but from that of the actors and institutions that seek to encourage, regulate, or even constrain involvements. Who are those encouraging youth to certain political involvements that are considered as legitimate by those in power? [Gallant et Garneau, 2016] Amongst policies that seek to encourage student involvements we can mention different examples of community service or the valuation of volunteering in high schools [Loup, 2000] and in universities [Butin & Seider, 2012; Testi, 2021]. These policies are not only limited to high schools and universities. These policies may be implemented at different local and state levels, as well as in national associations and popular education programs. Hence, we welcome communications that present different practices of participation, formal and informal, concerning student involvements [Walther et al. 2019]. We also welcome any analyses that seek to shine a light on the new student profiles that have chosen these types of involvements. Furthermore, we are also interested in studies that explore the roles played by other types of actors that have supported student involvements in matters such as housing, health, civic rights, and any other demands.

Practical information and submission guidelines

The conference will be held in France at the Université Paris Nanterre in October 2022 with a hybrid format. We particularly welcome young scholars, whatever their discipline.

Anyone interested is invited to submit a proposal (3000 signs maximum) in French or in English, with a title, research question, results, a brief presentation of status and institutional affiliation, in a word .docx format.

They are to be sent before April 1st, 2022, to the following address:

  •  je-engagementsetudiants@germe-inform.fr

Replies to participants expected on June 1st, 2022

Organization committee

Ioanna Kasapi (PhD candidate, University of Angers, TEMOS), Jean-Philippe Legois (archivist, president of Cité des Mémoires Étudiantes, EMA), Patricia Loncle (Professor of Sociology, EHESP, Arènes), Robi Morder (president of GERME, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, Printemps), Fransez Poisson (Coop’Eskemm member, associate researcher at Arènes), Paolo Stuppia (Phd in Political Science, associate researcher at CESSP – University of Paris 1-EHESS-CNRS), Simon Ridley (Phd in Sociology, associate researcher at Sophiapol – University of Paris Nanterre), Julie Testi (postdoc at CHEC – UCA, associate researcher at ISP- University of Paris Nanterre)

Advisory Board

Yaëlle Amsellem-Mainguy (researcher at INJEP, CERLIS), Lorenzo Barrault-Stella (researcher at CNRS, CRESSPA-CSU), Valérie Becquet (Professor of Science of Education, Cergy Paris Université, EMA), Séverine Chauvel (Sociology Senior Lecturer, University of Paris Est-Créteil, LIRTES), Nicole Gallant (Professor at Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Québec), Tristan Haute (Political Science Senior Lecturer, Université de Lille, CERAPS), Laurent Lardeux (researcher at INJEP, Triangle), Hugo Melchior (PhD candidate, University of Rennes II, ARENES), Sarah Pickard (British Civilisation Senior Lecturer, University Sorbonne Nouvelle, CREW), Nedjib Sidi Moussa (PhD in Political Science, associate researcher at CESSP – University of Paris 1-EHESS-CNRS), Claire Thoury (PhD in Sociology, president of Mouvement Associatif, general delegate of Animafac).


Valérie Becquet (coord.), Jeunesses engagées, Paris, Syllepse, 2014.

Judith Bessant, Analicia Mejia-Mesinas et Sarah Pickard (dir.), When Students Protest. Vol.2: Universities in Global South (a), & Vol.3: Universities in Global North (b), Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

Pierre Bourdieu et Jean-Claude Passeron, Les héritiers: les étudiants et la culture, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1964.

Collectif ACIDES, Pour un enseignement supérieur gratuit et émancipateur, Paris, Raisons d’agir, 2015.

Thierry Côme et Robi Morder (dir.), État de savoirs. Les engagements des étudiants. Formes collectives et organisées d’une identité étudiante, Rapport pour l’Observatoire de la vie étudiante (OVE), Paris, 2009.

Dan W. Butin, Scott Seider (eds.), The Engaged Campus. Certificates, Minors, and Majors as the New Community Engagement, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

John Aubrey Douglass, Neo-nationalism and Universities: Populists, Autocrats, and the Future of Higher Education, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021.

Valérie Erlich, Les nouveaux étudiants: un groupe social en mutation, Paris, Armand Colin, 1998.

Marie-Françoise Fave-Bonnet et Nicole Cler, “Des “Héritiers” aux “nouveaux” étudiants: 35 ans de recherches”, Revue française de pédagogie, vol.136, n°1, 2001, pp 9-19.

Nicole Gallant et Stéphanie Garneau (dir.), Les jeunes et l’action publique: participation, contestation, résistance, Québec, Presses universitaires de Laval, 2016.

Claude Grignon et Louis Gruel, La vie étudiante, Paris, PUF, 1999.

Jean-Philippe Legois, Alain Monchablon et Robi Morder (coord.), Cent ans de mouvements étudiants, Paris, Syllepse, 2007.

Jean-Philippe Legois, Marina Marchan et Robi Morder (coord.), Démocratie et citoyennetés étudiantes depuis 1968, Paris, Syllepse, 2020.

Julie Le Mazier, “Assemblées générales étudiantes et démocratie participative : un air de famille ?”, Participations, vol. 10, n° 3, 2014, pp. 61-83.

Maria do Mar Pereira, Power, Knowledge and Feminist Scholarship: An Ethnography of Academia, Londres Routledge, 2017.

Diane Loup, “Community Service: Mandatory or Voluntary ?”, School K-12, 2000.

Robi Morder, “Les répertoires d’action collective étudiante”, Les Cahiers du GERME, spécial n° 4, 2003.

Julie Testi, La reconnaissance pédagogique des engagements bénévoles et militants : étude d’une politique universitaire qui fait long feu, thèse pour l’obtention du doctorat en sociologie, Université Paris Nanterre, 2021.

Simon Ridley, “Les discours de haine et l’université : des flame wars à l’alt-right”, Mots. Les langages du Politique, no. 125, 2021, pp. 93-108.

Paolo Stuppia et Tristan Haute, “La “démocratie de l’abstention” à l’université: constante historique ou nouvelle défiance envers la représentation étudiante ?”, Agora débats/jeunesse,   vol.88, n°2, 2021, pp.7-25.

Claire Thoury, L’engagement étudiant dans un monde d’individualisation: construction identitaire et parcours politiques, thèse pour l’obtention du doctorat en sociologie, Sorbonne nouvelle, Paris, 2017.

Andreas Walther, Janet Batsleer, Patricia Loncle and Axel Pohl (eds.), Young People and the Struggle for Participation: Contested Practices, Power and Pedagogies in Public Spaces, London, Routledge, 2019.


  • Université Paris Nanterre
    Nanterre, France (92)

Event format

Hybrid event (on site and online)


  • Friday, April 01, 2022


  • jeunesse, étudiant, mouvement social, grève, engagement politique


  • Paolo Stuppia
    courriel : paolo [dot] stuppia [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Ioânna Kasapi
    courriel : ioanna [dot] kasapi [at] citedesmemoiresetudiantes [dot] org


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Engagements étudiants contemporains », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 08, 2022, https://calenda.org/963344

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