Projects per year
This article argues that the concrete practice of autonomy by social movements is deeply embedded in socioeconomic and political contexts, and as such involves a contested relationship in and against the state, the market and hegemonic discourses on development. The task is then to explain and learn from this contested character of autonomy in each context, the processes by which social movements' autonomous practices remain vibrant, how they engage with the state, how they become institutionalized (if so) and the implications of such ‘contested institutionalization’ for social movements and the state. This argument is explored through the case of the Argentina unemployed workers or Piqueteros movement, taking the specific example of the municipality of General Mosconi. The ability of the unemployed workers to force the state and local enterprises to adapt to their demands and to give support with minimum intervention is seen as an example to other parts of the world of how autonomous community processes can both engage with the state whereas retaining their own dynamics and control.