Opposition to economic liberalization has intensified since the late 1990s, with Latin America often standing at the forefront of new social and political movements that challenge market globalization. The revival of social protest and populist or leftist political alternatives has shattered the technocratic consensus around neoliberal policies in the region. By demanding an expanded set of social citizenship rights, these movements are also contesting the terms under which popular sectors were reincorporated politically under the new democratic regimes of the 1980s. This “second” historical process of mass political incorporation differs in fundamental ways from that associated with the process of labor incorporation in the first half of the twentieth century. It is marked by a more pluralistic set of social subjects, a more decentralized organizational structure, and more fluid patterns of institutional development. Existing scholarship often fails to explain variation in the patterns of social and political mobilization, due to both methodological and theoretical limitations—in particular, a tendency to focus on outcomes with little variation on the dependent variable, and a failure to engage theoretically with the literature on social fragmentation and demobilization. There is thus a need to problematize the process of mobilization by conducting more rigorous comparative research on a broader range of social responses to market liberalization.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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