24S-SOCIOL-191V-SEM-1 Variable Topics Research Seminars: Sociology

Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America

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SOC 191V
Prof. César J. Ayala
Sociology Department, UCLA
Spring 2024

SOC 191V
Prof. César J. Ayala
Sociology Department, UCLA
Spring 2024

Office: Haines Hall 245
Office Hours: Fridays, 9:00-10:00 am
TEL: 310-267-4306
Zoom Link for Office Hours

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After approximately 1980, the import substitution orientation of many Latin American economies was dismantled and replaced with regimes we now call “neoliberal.”  Common features of all the processes of neoliberalization were an emphasis on markets as opposed to state intervention in the economy, privatization of state-owned enterprises, dismantling of many subsidies and social protections enjoyed by the working class under previous regimes, an emphasis on decentralization, and attacks on unions, peasant organizations, and many other forms of collective resistance to unfettered market economies. This course examines processes of resistance to neoliberalism in Latin America.

Textbook: We will use Eduardo Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) as the basic textbook for this course, complemented by supplementary readings. The book is available for download from the library, no purchase is necessary.

Course Requirements: All students should come to class prepared, having done the assigned reading and be prepared to discuss the material. There will be one short 5-7 midterm paper and a final paper of the same length. Prompts for the essays will be assigned two weeks in advance.

Grading: The final grade will be computed as follows:

  1. Attendance and Class Participation: 30%*
  2. Midterm: 35%
  3. Final Paper: 35%

* As part of the class participation grade, students are expected to turn in a one page reaction paper every week on one of the readings. One page is equal to 250 words.When writing your reaction papers, it is useful to think of these questions: What is the central question the author seeks to answer? How does the author go about answering it (what are the methods and the sources)? Why is this question important? Do you think the answer is adequate? That is a lot to ask in 250 words but you may extend yourself up to 500 words if needed.



Week 1: Introductiom

Introduction, presentation of the course syllabus.

Movie: Even The Rain

Week 2:  Neoliberalism

John Maldonado, Diego Ayala-McCormick, Miguel A. Centeno, and Agustin E. Ferraro. "The Neoliberal State in Latin America," in Ferraro, A., & Centeno, M. A. (2023). State and Nation Making in Latin America and Spain : the Neoliberal State and Beyond. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108873031

Harvey, David. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press. (Ch. 1, 2, 4)


Centeno, Miguel A., and Joseph N. Cohen. 2012. “The Arc of Neoliberalism,Annual Review of Sociology 38 (1): 317–40.

Week 3: “Polanyian” Resistance to the Market

Block, & Polanyi, K. (2003). "Karl Polanyi and the Writing of “The Great Transformation,Theory and Society, 32(3), 275–306.  

Mann, M. (2013). “Neoliberalism, rise and faltering, 1970-2000,” In Mann, M. The Sources of Social Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), Volume 4, Globalizations, 1945-2011, (p. 129-178)    | Bibliography

Week 4: The Inconvenient Fact of Resistance to Neoliberalism

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, pp. xi-42.

Week 5: Argentina                

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, pp. 53-102

Week 6: Bolivia

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, pp. 103-146


Postero, & Fabricant, N. (2019). "Indigenous sovereignty and the new developmentalism in plurinational Bolivia,"Anthropological Theory, 19(1), 95–119.

Kennemore, Amy, Nancy Postero, and Rafael Segovia. “Cómo entender la crisis electoral de 2019 en Bolivia - Making Sense Of the 2019 Electoral Crisis In Bolivia: Lecciones de los movimientos sociales indígenas,Foro Internacional 62, no. 4 (250) (2022): 877–900.

Fabricant, & Postero, N. (2015). "Sacrificing Indigenous Bodies and Lands: The Political-Economic History of Lowland Bolivia in Light of the Recent TIPNIS Debate," The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 20(3), 452–474.00

Week 7: Ecuador

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, pp. 147-194

Week 8: Venezuela (1)

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, 195-229

López Maya, Margarita. (2014). Venezuela: "The Political Crisis of Post-Chavismo," Social Justice (San Francisco, Calif.), 40(4 (134)), 68–87.

Film: The Revolution Won’t be Televised


López Maya, Margarita. 2003. "Hugo Chavez Frías: His Movement and His Presidency."  In Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era, edited by S. Ellener and D. Hellinger,. Boulder. Luynne Rienner.

Week 9: Venezuela (2)

Ellner, Steve. (2017). "Venezuela’s Fragile Revolution: From Chávez to Maduro," Monthly Review (New York. 1949), 69(5), 1–14.

López Maya, Margarita. (2018). "Populism, 21st-century socialism and corruption in Venezuela," Thesis Eleven, 149(1), 67–83.

Hetland. (2017). "From System Collapse to Chavista Hegemony: The Party Question in Bolivarian Venezuela," Latin American Perspectives, 44(1), 17–36.

Week 10: Chile

Silva, Challenging Neoliberalism, 230-265

Rojas, René. (2016). "Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of the Chilean Labor Movement," New Labor Forum, 25(2), 36–46.


Rojas, René (2022). "Chile’s Resurgent Left," Catalyst. 6(1):  Spring 2022.

Optional: Balance Sheet of Neoliberalism and Resistance to Neoliberalism

Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, vol. 4, Chapter 10, "Global Crisis: The Great Neoliberal Recession."

Cohen, & Centeno, M. A. (2006). "Neoliberalism and Patterns of Economic Performance, 1980-2000," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 606(1), 32–67.

Perry Anderson, Brazil Apart, London: Verso: 2019.