Analyzing the Media Narratives in South Africa’s #FeesMustFall Movement

  • Kristin Bailey WilsonEmail author
  • Wouter Van Alebeek
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Protests stemming from social media activism are becoming increasingly commonplace around the world, and each narrative has similar attributes, namely, (1) young adults, (2) the use of social media to organize protests, and (3) a desire to influence politics. Often, the dissatisfaction with the political leaders stems from economic disparities in income and opportunity, political corruption, authoritarian government rule, and a lack of educational opportunity. Notable examples include the Arab Spring that began in 2010 in Tunisia and spread throughout Arab countries and the Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011 in the United States that highlighted economic inequalities around the world. Can protests promulgated by social media and enacted by the young lead to democratic dialogue between political leaders and a country’s youth? The chapter considers this question in the context of the #FeesMustFall protest movement in South Africa. Specifically, the chapter describes the competing narratives offered in the news reporting about the social media-facilitated protests beginning in mid-October 2015 culminating at the end of October when President Jacob Zuma agreed not to raise college fees and including the subsequent protests in reaction to President Zuma’s announcement.


#FeesMustFall protest movement #OpenStellenbosch campaign #RhodesMustFall movement Arab Spring Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Comprehensive universities Daily Higher Education News (DHEN) Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Higher education, South Africa National Development Plan National Qualifications Framework (NQF) National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Social media South Africa Statutes of the Republic of South Africa Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVEC) Universities of technology University of Port Elizabeth University of the North (UN) Zuma, J. 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and ResearchWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Educational Leadership Doctoral ProgramWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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