Sociology ETDs

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In this dissertation I compare the trajectories of two social movements against neoliberalism: the 2000 movement that successfully challenged the privatization of water in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and the movement that unsuccessfully challenged the results of the Mexican presidential election in 2006. I utilize Gramscis theory to examine neoliberalism as a passive revolution, and I apply concepts drawn from Buci-Glucksman's work on Gramsci's understanding of the State to examine these movements as 'anti-passive revolutions' and projects of radical democracy. My core argument holds that, despite emerging from quite divergent historical settings and socio-political contexts, these two movements against neoliberalism converged on similar structural outcomes: organized, mobilized and politically educated movements rooted in civil society, that seek the greater common good by changing the dynamics of state-civil society relationships in ways that will generate greater accountability of political actors and thus radically transform politics. They do so largely by generating spaces of solidarity which foster political engagement of common people and the development of new forms of participatory democracy. However, there are important ways in which the two movements differ, including in their approach to reshaping the political culture of civil society. I offer a perspective of how these movements are carrying on their democratic struggles, the structures of accountability that they are developing or can potentially develop, and what they can teach democratic struggles all over the world. Finally, I relate these movements to the other struggles worldwide that irrupted in 2011. I conclude that there are two important parallels between these new movements and my two case studies: They are fundamentally revolts against the neoliberal economic model and for the democratization of the political system, and they all underscore the need for rethinking and redefining the roles of the State and of civil society, and the relationship between them.

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Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Waitzkin, Howard

Second Committee Member

Tiano, Susan

Third Committee Member

Gonzales, Felipe

Fourth Committee Member

Meyer, Lorenzo


Political participation -- Bolivia, Political participation -- Mexico, Social movements -- Bolivia -- Cochabamba (Dept.), Social movements -- Mexico, Neoliberalism -- Bolivia, Neoliberalism -- Mexico, Bolivia -- Economic policy, Mexico -- Economic policy



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