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Talkin’ ’bout a revolution? From quiescence to resistance in the contemporary university

Talkin’ ’bout a revolution? From quiescence to resistance in the contemporary university

Bowes-Catton, Helen, Brewis, Jo, Clarke, Caroline, Drake, Deborah, Gilmour, Alison ORCID: 0000-0003-2256-1995 and Penn, Alison (2020) Talkin’ ’bout a revolution? From quiescence to resistance in the contemporary university. Management Learning, 51 (4). pp. 378-397. ISSN 1350-5076 (Print), 1461-7307 (Online) (doi:

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In discussing the events leading up to the resignation of the former Open University Vice Chancellor in April 2018, we focus on the enactment of a form of resistance against proposals for the university through a WhatsApp group, enabling rapid information exchange, discussion of tactics and concrete planning for action. We suggest our group – ‘the Hive’ – was unusual because, first, it countered the politically quiescent trend in academia to comply (at least outwardly) with neoliberalisation, and/or only to write about it, as opposed to mounting challenges. Second, the Hive was virtual, comprising various staff categories, including people based off-campus; it operated almost entirely online and many members had never met face-to-face. This for us evokes notions of the multitude. Third, the group exemplifies alternative forms of solidarity and resistance in other ways, being non-hierarchical, highly pluralist and non-exclusionary. Finally, our Hive provided a supportive, caring space for resisters, which we suggest emerged partly through members’ love for the distinctive social mission of The Open University – although our story also provides hope for harnessing similar emotions within other academic institutions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Uncontrolled Keywords: Love, quiescence, resistance, solidarity, academic neoliberalism, resistance
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Educational Development Unit
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 16:57

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