On student movements in the decay of the Estado Novo

Miguel Cardina (Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra) ‘On student movements in the decay of the Estado Novo’, Portuguese Journal of Social Science 7: 3, pp. 151–164, doi: 10.1386/pjss.7.3.151/1, 2008. (Excerpt)

In the late 1960s, the process of political and cultural dissidence that had permeated Portuguese student circles from the end of the previous decade (visible in the constant election of left-wing lists to student associations, and the politicisation of student discourses and practices) converged with the atmosphere of international ferment and rebellion that Robert Frank called, in a somewhat exclusive reference, ‘l’espace 68’ (Frank 2000: 31). As Arthur Marwick (1998) suggests in the sub-title to his important work on the subject, this period witnessed what was effectively a cultural revolution that profoundly transformed the fields of culture, politics and morality. These changes emanated largely from the universities, in some cases taking on specific characteristics in accordance with different national contexts. This text intends to investigate the student protests that took place in Portugal during the final years of the Estado Novo. First, however, it is important to mention some of the differences between these student movements and those that were developing over the same period in the democratic western countries.

Particular receptions

In Portugal, the reception of these new trends was filtered by social conditions at the time. Political repression, slow urban development and the extension into all domains of daily life of the conservative Catholic morality meant the more radical practices generated by the ‘anti-disciplinary protest’ of the period found it difficult to take root (Stephens 1998).