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The George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


Chile's political system is in a state of flux. Between 2011 and 2013, student protests and other movements spread across the nation, enflaming latent resentment of the political institutions and demanding that the government respond to society's problems. But despite this nearly unanimous public mandate, the political coalitions that control Chile have done little to temper the harsh neoliberal system, opting instead to go on serving the business and elite interests that profit from the country's extreme inequality. In this context of dramatic disaffection with the powers that be, a group of new political actors have emerged from the student movement and are fighting their way into the system.

Principal among these new players are Revolución Democrática (Democratic Revolution), Izquierda Autónoma (the Autonomous Left) y Movimiento Autonomista (the Autonomous Movement). Though unified in their common goal of structural transformation, these groups represent a broad spectrum of positions of how best to confront the system, with some opting to plunge directly into the political institutions as formal parties and others preferring to remain further from the institutions and focus on challenging the system via social movements.

This investigation will examine how their ideologies, objectives, strategies, and tactics differ, how their origins as movements shape their trajectory, and how they perceive each other. In what ways do these insurgent political forces deal with the risk of over-institutionalizing and becoming the corrupted political forces they currently oppose? Throughout Chile's history many well-intentioned reform movements have succumbed to this trap. And yet, one is only truly able to change the institutions from within them. This project will ultimately seek to understand how these three fledgling movements navigate institutionalism and make their place in the Chilean political system.


Critical and Cultural Studies | Latin American History | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Political Science | Politics and Social Change | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Justice


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