Toward a Re-reading of the Political Economy of South America?

Ernesto Vivares

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper


It is common place in academia when appraising the misfortunes and achievements of South America to refer, positively or negatively, to a lineal succession of political and economic stages which have transformed the region from being dominated by authoritarian populism to incorporating neoliberal globalisation. This sequence begins with the identification of authoritarian populism, followed by ISI-ECLA desarrollism, finally ending in the 1990s logic of the Washington Consensus. Briefly, this view offers a particularly elitist and economist character to the explanation of regional developments with two results. First, the social character of power is reduced to institutional-rational constituencies and individual leaderships in an elitist, ahistorical and top-down interpretation of development. Second, it reinforces the traditional divorce between the international and domestic, and approaches economics and politics as isolated empirical units. This paper attempts to provide a re-reading of the main stages and feature of South American development by deploying a new political economy approach able to address five major dominant dichotomies present in mainstream economics and political approaches: 1) the undeniable social nature of development and change; 2) the idea that the domestic represents an independent unit from the international; 3) the analytical dilemma between agency and structure; 4) the conception that the economy and market are an independent social dimension governed by its own rules, detached from society and separate from the state; 5) and the apparent opposition between the regional and the global.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIPEG Papers in Global Political Economy
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Also on LATN Red Latinoamericana de Politica Comercial - Otros Papers No. 70


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