Collective Protest and Elite Colleges: The U.S. Anti-War Movement in the 1960s

4th November 2019 : 12:45 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Quantitative Methods Hub

Speaker: Michael Biggs, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room B

Convener: Steve Strand

Seminar Abstract


Why is protest prevalent in elite colleges and universities? This paper distinguishes the characteristics of entering freshmen from the effects of the college environment, and assesses various aspects of that environment—including the density of social interaction, the political orientation of professors, and the influence of student peers. It uses a panel of 23,000 students in 168 American universities, who were surveyed on entry in 1967 and 1968 and then again in 1970. One in four students protested on campus against American foreign policy. Protest varied across colleges primarily because they selected different sorts of students. The college environment did, however, affect those who had initially expected not to protest. Controlling for almost four dozen individual characteristics, they were more likely to protest where their professors were liberal and where their student peers had expected to protest. Social density and movement organization had no effect. These findings demonstrate the value of tracing individuals over time, and emphasize the sociological significance of selection.


About the speaker


Dr. Michael Biggs is Associate Professor in Sociology and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford.




In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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