This article assesses the strategies that the Italian student activists adopted in order to influence the revision process of the governance structure of their universities in 2011. Which kind of strategy has enabled these activists to influence more successfully this process? I argue that the joint pressure of insiders and outsiders allows student activists to get their voice more effectively heard from the university leaders than when one of the two forms of pressure is absent. The ‘power of the streets’ exerted by the ‘outsiders’, combined with the institutional power of the ‘insiders’, produces a significant amplifying effect in the governing bodies. University leaders fear this kind of alliance, as they perceive that insiders with a strong tie with other actors are the expression of a collective voice that is difficult to neutralize. On the other hand, the outsiders are also aware that their collective strength is more likely to be translated into institutional power and action from their allies and/or representatives. To empirically probe this proposition, I have singled out three Italian universities (University of Turin, Sapienza of Rome, and Federico II of Naples), which witnessed high levels of student mobilization in the past years (2008–13), and where student activists and their organizations adopted the most different array of strategies. More specifically, while at the University of Turin the student activists were able to deploy simultaneously both forms of pressure, at the Federico II of Naples and Sapienza of Rome one of the two forms was lacking.
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