Applied Sociology in Action: Student Protests in Taiwan & Australia

Applied Sociology in Action: Student Protests in Taiwan & Australia

New on my blog, I look at the similarities in the public reactions to student protest in Taiwain and Australia. In March, sociology students in Taiwan were criticised for being released from class to attend peaceful protests occupying a government building. They were protesting a trade-in-service agreement with China. On the one hand, Taiwan’s Education Minister said that teachers should support their students’ education rights. On the other hand, he criticised teachers for supporting this through peaceful protest. Instead, he argued that teachers should have done this _”through rational debates and discussions.”

Today in Australia, students are being similarly critiqued for protesting the deregulation of university fees as a result of the impending national budget. Universities Australia told the ABC program Lateline on 3rd of June that increased fees will mean up to a 60% increase in debt for some university degrees. This translates to an additional 6 years of repayments for full-time workers. For a part-time worker who takes time away from paid work to start a family, the research suggests this could mean up to 20 years additional debt.

Much like the Taiwanese students, Australian students have been criticised for disrupting another popular ABC political program, Q&A, as part of their demonstration, and for ongoing peaceful marches around the country. The student protests were even called, effectively, “undemocratic” and “unproductive” by conservative commentators.

The idea that students should be relegated to quiet debate behind closed doors is the antithesis of social justice movements and civil rights action. Only people in power, who are not at risk by new laws, would make such an argument. It’s clear that class and power play out in similar ways in two very different democratic contexts in the Asian region.

Read more on my blog: http://buff.ly/1hX192f #sociology #socialscience #education #students #australia #taiwan

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