coping with the free market city

coping with the free market city - COPING WITH THE FREE...

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Latin American Research Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, June 2006 © 2006 by the University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819 C O P I N G W I T H T H E F R E E M A R K E T C I T Y Collective Action in Six Latin American Cities at the End of the Twentieth Century 1 Bryan R. Roberts, University of Texas, Austin Alejandro Portes, Princeton University Received: 9-23-2004; Revise and resubmit 12-9-2004; Revised received 5-19-2005; Final acceptance 8-24-2005 Abstract: Major social and economic changes in Latin America brought about by adoption of the neoliberal model of development have been documented in the recent research literature. We ask to what extent such changes have affected the character of popular collective mobilizations in major cities of the region. We present data from six recent field studies in major Latin American cities that identify goals pursued by contemporary popular movements and organizations and the strategies they adopt to achieve them. These studies provide an overview of how urban society has reacted to the constraints, crises, and opportunities brought about by the new model of development and cast light on what has changed and what remains the same in determinants of popular collective demand-making in major metropolitan areas. Theoretical and practical implications of these re- sults are discussed. INTRODUCTION In this paper we use case studies of urban collective action in six major metropolitan areas of Latin America, five of which are capital cities, to explore continuities and changes in the nature of neighborhood-based popular mobilizations. These are Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago. In the 1970s and 1980s, their populations were active in protesting the inequities and scarcities that accompanied their rapid growth even in face of the lack of democratic opportunities for effective voice (for Rio de Janeiro, see Machado da 1. The data on which this paper is based were collected as part of the Princeton-Texas Project on Latin American Urbanization in the Late Twentieth Century, conducted with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We gratefully acknowledged the com- ments and suggestions of our collaborators in this project (listed subsequently), and of the editors and anonymous reviewers of this journal. Responsibility for the content is exclusively ours.
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58 Latin American Research Review Silva 1969, Perlman 1976, and Leeds 1974; for Santiago: Portes 1972 and Castells 1983; for Mexico City: Cornelius 1983 and Eckstein 1977; for Lima: Blondet 1991, Collier 1976, Dietz 1977, and Degregori et al. 1986; for Montevideo: Filgueira 1986; for Buenos Aires: James 2003, Jelin 1985, Germani 1965, and González Bombal 1989). 2 These six cities are now governed democratically, but they are still places of high inequality and poverty. Moreover, free-market policies have increased the risks facing their low-income populations without significantly increasing economic opportunities (Portes and Roberts 2005). There is thus much to protest and demand, but the conditions for
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