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Colby College

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

movimiento social, praxis, poder constituyente, política prefigurativa, alter-activismo, educación popular, red social, acción colectiva


October 2019, mass mobilizations erupted across Chile in a widespread rebellion against the neoliberal system of economic austerity and the current government. In such a powerful historical moment undoubtedly decisive for the direction of the country, this paper seeks to examine how student participants, an increasingly strong voice of radical dissidence in recent years of social movements, imagine a better Chile. Engaging with classic and contemporary theories of social movements, this paper analyzes the methods of organization and action utilized by the protesters and how they are influenced by institutional structures and the political opportunities available. Through interviews and the review of political flyers distributed by at the protests, the study establishes the common goals of the movement as a whole and the visions the protesters harbor for different future of the country. Under the concepts of prefigurative politics and alter-activism, the paper explores how the movement manifests their desired futures through their present actions and thus begins the construction and realization of a better world today.

This study found that students organize primarily in assemblies and university federations open to all while also participating in a diverse array of territorial non-university organizations. Marches and protests to occupy public space and disrupt daily life have become a vital form of political collective action, but recent mobilizations have also seen the rise of new forms of protest, such as dances, songs, and performances, that utilize creativity to call attention specifically to the movement’s demands. Centered on the call for a new constitution and a citizen assembly, the protests envision a more equal, just Chile in economic terms, but they also focus on securing policies of reparation and social justice to combat the history of repression in the country. The scale of action and the multitude of causes represents a questioning of the existing system that has spurred widespread citizen self-organization and deliberation of necessary reforms on local, regional, and national levels. The community’s developing mechanisms of self-management facilitate the construction of popular self-governance of the movement’s demands and signify the people’s assumption of control over the country’s changes and future.


Civic and Community Engagement | Higher Education | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Welfare


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