In Defence of Safe Spaces: Subaltern Counterpublics and Vulnerable Politics in the Neoliberal University

  • Chris Waugh


This chapter offers an analysis of ‘Safe Spaces’ policies in UK Universities. These policies encourage participants to engage in reflexive behaviour, acknowledging societal privilege and dynamics of oppression. Safe spaces are criticised for impinging on freedom of speech, and being a means for students to avoid the ‘truths of life’. Drawing on Butler and Fraser, I contend that safe spaces are counterpublics. Safe spaces offer an imperfect but vital opposition to the socialisation of resilience inherent in neoliberalism. Safe spaces are for recuperation and the formation of resistance. I argue that criticism of safe spaces is also a critique of those who reject neoliberal resilience.



The author would like to thank Lucy Wilkins, without whom this work would have been impossible.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Waugh
    • 1
  1. 1.LeedsUK

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