Roberta Rice

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



This paper examines patterns of popular protest in contemporary Latin America largely in response to the region's adoption of market reforms. The central question addressed is, why have social protests against neoliberal reforms emerged more in some countries than in others? And second, are there discernible patterns in the forms of social protest being undertaken? The research questions are addressed using a pooled cross-sectional time series analysis of domestic conflict in Latin America coupled with a qualitative comparative analysis of the patterns of protest in the member and associate member countries of Latin America's most important trading bloc, the Common Market of the South (Mercosur; f.1991). The paper argues that it is the character of domestic political institutions which structures the nature, scope, and intensity of resistance to economic reform on the part of civil society. It is suggested that new social actors, who lack institutionalized channels of social representation, have come to the forefront of anti-neoliberal protests. Market reforms are found to have produced a shift in the pattern of social protest in Latin America, from institutionalized to non-institutionalized forms of social mobilization.


Latin American and Iberian Institute, UNM

Language (ISO)



The Latin American and Iberian Institute of the University of New Mexico


political institutions, social protest, contemporary Latin America