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Social Movements, Public Policy, and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America

J Carlos Dominguez (qeh)

QEH Working Papers from Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford

Abstract: This work studies how different social mobilisation processes have influenced policy processes in Latin America (2000-2003) and vice versa. Studying these interrelations includes three issues of empirical and theoretical importance. First, it explores under what conditions an investment project or policy initiative that is strongly supported by a democratically elected government on the basis of economic and technical arguments may trigger the emergence of a social movement; and under what conditions a social movement may successfully preclude the implementation of such project or policy initiative. Second, this work explores if these social movements have actually compensated for the absence of channels of participation and representation that work to influence the institutional policy process. Third and final, it studies if the influence and impact of these social movements have contributed to improve the design and implementation of public policies in the medium term and to promote the democratic consolidation in the region. Although the work is based on evidence from many countries in the region, there are mainly two case studies presented with more detail: the 'Water War' in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2001-2002) and the conflict triggered by the project to build a new airport in Mexico City (2001-2002). The 'Gas War' of Bolivia (2003) is also explored with less detail.

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