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State-Social Movements relations in Latin America


Admission requirements

To be registered as a student in a (Research) Master programme.


In the last decades the Latin American region has seen the proliferation and empowerment of social movements, ranging from the Zapatista Movement in Mexico in 1994 to the more recent social protests in Brazil, the Student Movement in Chile and ‘#’ movements such as #NiUnaMenos and #YoSoy132. The recent wave of social protest made once again clear that social movements are a recurrent and very often effective mechanism of citizen participation, that take the State a the focal point of their struggle. Amidst the economic slowdown and overall crisis from 2020, social protest continues to both resist weak and ineffective institutions, as well as to voice citizen demands.

The course first introduces the main scholarly debates on Latin American Social Movements. It then examines the tensions that characterize social movements’ relation with the State, as well as their strategic but often problematic use of new technologies. The course takes particular interest in assessing the potential and limitations of social movements for achieving social change and, ultimately, deepening democracy in Latin America.

Course objectives

  • To insert students in the main academic debates regarding Latin American social movements.

  • To have an understanding of the key tensions that characterize the interaction between State and Social Movements.

  • To understand the potential and limitations of social movements in achieving sociopolitical change in current issues in Latin America.

  • To assess the impact of social movements on the practice of democracy in the region.

  • To be able to apply the knowledge gained in a case study.

The transferable skills that are practiced in this course include:

  • Analytical thinking (analytical skills, abstraction and argumentation)

  • Project management (planning, delimitation of the study)

  • Oral communication (presentation, academic language, listening and providing feedback)

  • Written communication (academic writing, reporting on research results, argument structuration)

  • Critical thinking (discussion, critical assessment of sources)

  • Intercultural skills (research and interaction in an intercultural setting)


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

Assessment method


Brief discussion of the appointed literature during seminar (pass).
Oral presentation on the progress of the case study for the writing of the paper (30%).
Final paper of 5000 words, written under supervision (70%). The paper may be submitted in Spanish, Portuguese or English.

The paper for the research master students should pay more attention to the theoretical framework and relate the case study to a key debate on Latin American Modernities (discussed in the core courses). To this end, these students will get at least one extra individual meeting focused on theory and a more complex research question.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


A resit is (in principle) only possible in the case that the final grade for the course is a 5 or lower. The components that have been evaluated as insufficient can be resit. The resit for the final presentation entails a short research proposal for the paper of ca. 1500 words. A revised version of the paper can be resubmitted as a resit in case of an insufficient evaluation.

The percentages of the components do not change in the resit.

Inspection and feedback

The lecturer will provid feedback on both assessment components (the oral presentation and the final paper). In addition, by the student’s request, it is possible to schedule a meeting with the lecturer to discuss the results of the examinations in more detail.

Reading list

A selection of articles and book chapters. The final reading list will be made available through Blackboard before the beginning of the course. The following is a preliminary list:
Alvarez, S. et al. (1998) ‘Introduction: The Cultural and the Political in Latin American Social Movements’ en Alvarez et al. , Cultures of Politics and Politics of Cultures. Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 1-29.
Bogason, P. y Musso, J.A. (2006) ‘The Democratic Prospects of Network Governance’. American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 3-18.
Böhm, S. et al. (2010) ‘(Im)possibilities of Autonomy: Social Movements in and beyond Capital, the State and Development’. Social Movement Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 17-32.
Buechler, S. M. (1995) ‘New Social Movement Theories’. Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 441-464.
Canessa, A. (2006) ‘Todos somos indígenas: Towards a new Language of National Political Identity’. Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 241-263.
Carnoy, M. y Castells, M. (2001) ‘Globalization, the knowledge sociey, and the Network State: Poulantzas at the millenium’. Global Networks, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1-18.
Coy, P. G. y Hedeen, T. (2005) ‘A Stage Model of social Movement Co-optation: Community Mediation in the United States’. The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 46, pp. 405-435.
Dagnino, E. et al. (2007) ‘Innovación Democrática en América Latina: Una primera mirada al proyecto democrático-participativo’. Documento presentado en el Seminario Democratic Innovation in the South, San José, Costa Rica, Marzo 5-6 de 2007. (
Disney, J. L. y Williams, V. S. (2014) ´Latin American Social Movements and a New Left Consensus: State and Civil Society Challenges to Neoliberal Globalization´. New Political Science, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 1-31.
Earle, L. (2013) ‘Drawing the Line between State and Society: Social Movements, Participation and Autonomy in Brazil’. Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 56-71.
Esteva, G. (2010) ‘From the Bottom-up: New institutional arrangements in Latin America’. Society for International Development, Vol. 53, No. 1, pp. 64-69.
Fleury, S. (2002) ‘El desafío de la gestión de las redes de políticas’. Revista Instituciones y Desarrollo, No. 12-13, pp. 221-247.
Foweraker, J. (2001) ‘Grassroots Movements and Political Activism in Latin America: A Critical Comparison of Chile and Brazil’. Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 839-865.
Fuentes-Nieva, R. y Feroci, G.N. (2017) ‘The Evolving Role and Influence and Growing Strength of Social Movements in Latin America and the Caribbean’. International Development Policy, 9: 323-338.
Goldstone, J.A. (2003) ‘Introduction. Bridging institutionalized and noninstitutionalized politcs’ en State, Parties, and Social Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-26.
González-Rivera, V. (2014) ‘Undemocratic Legacies: First-Wave Feminism and the Somocista Women’s Movement in Nicaragua, 1920s–1979’. Bulleting of Latin American Research, 33(3): 259-273.
Haunss, S (2015) ‘Chapter 1. Promise and Practice in Studies of Social Media and Movements’ in Dencik, L et al., Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest. London: Rowman&Littlefield International, Ltd.
Hilmer, J.D. (2010) ‘The State of Participatory’ Democratic Theory’. New Political Science, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 43-63.
Johnston, H. (2011) ‘The State, Protest and Social Movements’ en States and Social Movements. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 1-30.
Kitschelt, H. (1993) ‘Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democratic Theory’. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 528, pp. 13-29.
Lance Bennett, W. and Segerberg A. (2012) ‘The Logic of Connective Action’. Information, Communication&Society, 15(5): 739-768.
Lopes de Souza, M. (2016) ‘Lessons from Praxis: Autonomy and Spatiality in Contemporary Latin American Social Movements’. Antipode, 48(5): 1292-1316.
Lucero, JA (2008) ‘Chapter 4. Articulating Indianness, Regnioanlly and nationally, 1960-1990s’ in Struggles of Voice: The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes. Pittsburgh:”University of Pittsburgh Press.
Melucci, A. (1980) “The new social movements: a theoretical approach”. Social Science Information 19: 199-226.
Mezzadra, S. and Gago, V. (2017) ‘In the wake of the plebeian revolt: Social movements, ‘progressive’ governments, ant the politics of autonomy in Latin America’. Anthropological Theory, 17(4): 474-496.
Migdal, J.S. (2001) ‘The State in Society approach’ en State in Society. Nueva York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-38.
Milan, S (2015) ‘Chapter Three. Mobilizing in Times of Social Media: from a Politics of Identity to a Politics of Visibility’ in Dencik, L et al., Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest. London: Rowman&Littlefield International, Ltd.
Milcíades Peña, A. y Davies, T.R. (2017) ‘Responding to the Street: Government responses to mass protests in democracies’. Mobilization: An International Quartely, 22 (2): 177-200.
Natera Peral, A. (2005) ‘Nuevas estructuras y redes de gobernanza’. Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Vol. 67, No. 4, pp. 755-791.
Nikiporets-Takigawa, G. (2017) ‘Leadership and Leaders in Networked Social Movements’. Demokratizatsiya, 25(1): 7-22.
Pacheco, JE (2014) ‘Sistema de protesta: política, medios y el #YoSoy132’. Sociológica, 29(82): 83-123.
Pappas, T.S. (2008) ‘Political Leadership and the Emergence of Radical Mass Movements in Democracy’. Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 41, No. 8, pp. 1117-1140.
Porto, MP and Brant, J (2015) ‘Chapter Ten. Social Media and the 2013 Protests in Brazil: the Contradictory Nature of Political Mobilization in the Digital Era’ in Dencik, L et al., Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest. London: Rowman&Littlefield International, Ltd.
Reuterswärd, C. et al. (2011) ‘Abortion Law Reforms in Colombia and Nicaragua: issue Networks and Opportunity Contexts’. Development and Change, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 805-831.
Sanchez, O. (2008) ‘Transformation and Decay: the de-institutionalisation of party systems in South America'. Third Wolrd Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 315-337.
Simonetto, P. (2017) ‘Movimientos de liberación homosexual en América Latina. Aportes historiográficos desde una perspectiva comparada entre Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia y México (1967-1982)’. Iberoamericana, 17 (65): 157-177.
Sørensen, E. (2002) ‘Democratic Theory and Network Governance’. Administrative Theory&Praxis, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 693-720.
Sutherland, N. et al. (2014) ‘Anti-leaders(hip) in Social Movement Organizations: The case of autonomous grassroots groups’. Organization, 21(6): 759-781.
Van Cott, D.L. (2008) ‘Chapter 3. Mayoral leadership and democratic institutional innovation’ en Radical Democracy in the Andes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wichkham-Crowley, Timothy P. and Eickstein, Susan (2015) ‘The Persisting Relevance of Political Economy and Political Sociology in Latin American Social Movement Studies’. Latin American Research Review, 50 (4): 3-25.
Yashar, D. J. (2007) ‘Resistance and Identity Politics in an Age of Globalization’. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, No. 610, pp. 160-181.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.

Not applicable.


Dr. S. Valdivia Rivera

Onderwijsadministratie: Reuvensplaats

Studiecoördinator: Tim Sanders


Attendance is compulsory. In case the student misses more than three sessions, the lecturer may decide to impose complementary assignments, to guarantee the student meets the requirements of the course.