Collective action and political elites at the local level. A Comparative Perspective on Some Democratization Processes in Colombia and Mexico

Project: Research Project

Project Details


The project seeks to study some democratization processes in a comparative way between Colombia and Mexico, operating a triple displacement of the traditional problem of democracy, which tends to analyze it as if it were an object limited to a particular sphere, separated from the social.
First, it focuses on regions affected by various social problems (poverty, violence, etc.) that distance them from central political dynamics, such as the department of Chocó in Colombia and the State of Veracruz in Mexico. Secondly, the gaze is focused on the social sphere and not on the institutional sphere. The democratization processes will be sought in the collective actions carried out by different actors in these regions, and in the performance of the political elites in them. Special attention will be given to the encounters and disagreements that are evident between these two types of actors. Finally, thirdly, the project adopts a comprehensive look that, instead of starting from a previous definition of what democratization processes are, seeks to establish what are the meanings that the actors involved give to the categories of democracy, State, rights etc
This project finds its justification in the need to understand democracy and its dynamics in Latin America in a more complex way and closer to the field than what is proposed by the traditional view that is limited to the political-institutional field. Thus, its main objective is to provide an answer to the question of how collective action processes can lead to democratization processes, and what is the role of political elites in this process.
At the methodological level, the project associates, on the one hand, a line called "collective action", which, based on ethnographic fieldwork, seeks to establish whether the actors involved in social mobilizations in the studied regions support their actions and claims in a vision of the political, and on the other hand, a line called "political elites", which explores the behavior of local actors that are part of the political field, the way in which they relate or not with the actors studied in the previous line, and the vision of the political that they themselves have.
The project will lead to the organization of a seminar where the findings found in Colombia and Mexico will be compared, and to various publications focused on the case studies. This final comparative effort will aim to demonstrate the existence and characteristics of democratization processes at the local level and in the practice of usually inconspicuous social and political actors, despite their precarious relationships with central political institutions.
Effective start/end date7/1/116/30/12

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Main Funding Source

  • FIUR


  • South America


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