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Working-Class Mobilization and Political Control

Working-Class Mobilization and Political Control: Venezuela and Mexico

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Working-Class Mobilization and Political Control
    Book Description:

    Historically, Latin American political regimes have sought to postpone far-reaching economic reforms and improvements in living standards in order to facilitate the accumulation of private capital. These goals have led to exclusion of the lower classes from the political process altogether or to efforts to control their political mobilization. The ability of governments to maintain such control has often been attributed to the lack of political sophistication by the working class or to the distribution of benefits through patron-client networks designed to preserve the hegemony of ruling parties.

    Using new survey data from 500 industrial workers in Mexico and Venezuela, Charles L. Davis now questions these conventional explanations and two others: that industrial workers are part of a "labor aristocracy" and are therefore content with the performance of the capitalist regimes, and that political control is exercised through restriction of partisan competition and thus of opportunities for workers to challenge developmental priorities and public policy goals.

    Davis's study demonstrates that working-class mobilization is more firmly controlled in Mexico's one-party dominant political system than in Venezuela's two-party system. He finds little evidence that political participation in either country is guided by labor unions with ties to dominant parties. Nor are these workers content with the performance of the regimes or lacking in political sophistication. The primary explanation for their psychological disengagement from politics and avoidance of protest voting appears to be the lack of meaningful electoral options.

    Davis's two case studies provide important new insights into an issue that appears certain to remain ex-plosive as dissident labor leaders in Latin America seek to mobilize working-class opposition to existing state developmental strategies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6280-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Chapter One State Capitalism and Mass Mobilization
    (pp. 1-21)

    Richard Couto coined the phrase “political silence” to characterize the political behavior of the impoverished masses in Appalachia.¹ The point that Couto emphasized is that these people have every reasonnotto remain silent in the face of environmental destruction, inadequate public services, extreme concentration of land ownership, regressive taxation, and lack of economic opportunity.² The focus of this study is also on political silence—the silence exhibited by industrial workers in the state-capitalist regimes of Mexico and Venezuela. The study will show that workers in these two countries also have every reason not to remain politically silent yet tend...

  6. Chapter Two Demographic Characteristics of Unions
    (pp. 22-40)

    In this chapter the reader is introduced to profiles of the work settings from which samples of workers were drawn and provided an overview of the personal and socioeconomic characteristics of workers who were interviewed. In addition to its intrinsic interest, this information on the immediate context and characteristics of workers in the sample is vital for interpretation of results. Workers as a class do not respond uniformly to political stimuli. Factors such as age, region, or intraclass variation in socioeconomic status can account in part for differences in political attitudes and behavior among workers.¹ Furthermore, there is evidence to...

  7. Chapter Three Social Transformation and Political Incorporation
    (pp. 41-61)

    The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader a historical overview of twentieth-century transformations in Mexico and Venezuela that have shaped the role of urban labor in the politics of these countries. Rapid import-substitution industrialization necessitated a strong state that could (1) maintain political stability and (2) assume an active role in promoting economic development. These goals could not be achieved unless the work force was kept politically quiescent. To achieve this objective, elites turned to incorporation of the lower classes into the political system rather than to exclusion. Social pacts were designed to incorporate the lower classes...

  8. Chapter Four Mechanisms of Political Control
    (pp. 62-81)

    Chapter 1 noted that corporatist interest intermediation, restricted partisan competition, weak representative institutions, elite consensus, and the use of repression might facilitate political control. This chapter, will examine more closely these facets of control in the Mexican and Venezuelan political systems.

    Corporatist interest intermediation in Mexico is asserted primarily through the sectoral organization of the ruling party. In the case of organized labor, most large labor federations in Mexico are incorporated into the labor sector of the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (pri) and into the overarching Congreso del Trabajo (ct). Both the labor sector of the PRI and the ct...

  9. Chapter Five Patterns of Political Mobilization
    (pp. 82-98)

    Chapter 1 examined alternative patterns of political mobilization.Autonomousandcontrolledpolitical mobilization along withdemobilizationwere discussed. As noted, each of these patterns of mobilization is characterized by subordinate groups manifesting a particular syndrome of political attitudes and participatory behaviors.

    Autonomous political mobilization occurs when subordinate groups (1) perceive their collective interests in conflict with those of other groups and/or with the state and (2) engage in collective political action to defend those interests. Individuals who are so mobilized become aware of their collective interests and tend to be psychologically involved in politics. Furthermore, they tend to be political...

  10. Chapter Six Political Control and Participatory Motivations
    (pp. 99-117)

    Two types of political mobilization can occur: external and cognitive.¹ External mobilization results when individuals otherwise lacking motivations to political participation in politics are drawn into participation by interest groups or political parties with which they are aligned.² Cognitive mobilization, on the other hand, occurs when individuals participate in politics based on their own long-term motivations.³ Cognitive mobilization involves two stages: (1) the acquisition of long-term motivations and (2) the conversion of these motivations into specific political action. Typically, cognitive mobilization is self-initiated, while external mobilization is normally guided participation. This chapter focuses on stage 1 of cognitive mobilization, the...

  11. Chapter Seven Political Control and Electoral Mobilization
    (pp. 118-128)

    Chapter 5 presented evidence of controlled political mobilization among Venezuelan and Mexican workers interviewed for this study. These workers tend to engage in little political activity beyond periodic voting. In fact, nonelectoral demand-protest activity is so low as to almost be a constant; therefore, it is not feasible to analyze empirically why these formal sector workers do not protest via nonelectoral means. However, one can analyze why these workers choose to vote in elections and why they tend to support hegemonic parties rather than leftist parties. These main questions are addressed in this and the following chapters. In this chapter...

  12. Chapter Eight Political Control and Electoral Choice
    (pp. 129-155)

    The fundamental issue to be addressed in this chapter is why industrial workers in this sample tend to vote for hegemonic parties committed to the prevailing state-capitalist model of development rather than for leftist parties committed to socialist strategies of development. The purpose of this study is to identify control mechanisms within the inclusionary political systems of Mexico and Venezuela that enable centrist ruling parties to maintain their hegemony and to suppress system-challenging mobilization among lower-class populations. This chapter explores how (1) corporatist interest intermediation, (2) restricted partisan competition, and (3) satisfaction with government performance contribute to working-class support for...

  13. Chapter Nine Beyond Controlled Mobilization
    (pp. 156-164)

    Chapter 1 explained how Latin American inclusionary regimes use social pacts to incorporate various social sectors. Incorporation came about through social pacts in which economic benefits and other public goods were extended to various societal groups in exchange for their expected support of the existing state. The nature of the pact depended on the group’s political power and control of investable capital. More privileged groups could negotiate more favorable bargains than less privileged groups.

    Pact-constructed states, like Mexico and Venezuela, are designed to integrate all sectors of society into the state without disrupting economic development via a state-capitalist strategy. Private...

  14. Appendix A. Data Base for Study of Venezuelan and Mexican Workers
    (pp. 165-166)
  15. Appendix B. Measurement and Scaling of Independent and Control Variables
    (pp. 167-172)
  16. Appendix C. Modes of Political Activity: A Varimax Factor Analysis
    (pp. 173-174)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 175-200)
  18. Index
    (pp. 201-211)