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Contested Spaces: The Communal Councils and Participatory Democracy in Chávez’s Venezuela

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-01, 13:40 authored by Matt Wilde
Since their launch in 2006, the communal councils have been heralded as a significant step toward the establishment of a radical, participatory democracy in Venezuela. Ethnographic fieldwork carried out in a working-class barrio in Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city, shows that local residents perceive and make use of the communal councils in a variety of ways. Older women in particular have become central players in community political life as a result of the reforms, although the burdens they take on arguably reproduce patterns of gendered inequality. Some residents express suspicion of new community leaders, accusing them of corruption, and there are conflicting views of what participatory democracy actually means in practical terms. The communal councils should be understood as contested spaces, the ambiguities and conflicts within them reflecting broader tensions within the Bolivarian project as a whole.

Funding

The research for this article was carried out thanks to a scholarship from the Economic and Social Research Council and a grant from the Society for Latin American Studies.

History

Citation

Latin American Perspectives, 2017, 44 (1), pp. 140-158

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Latin American Perspectives

Publisher

SAGE Publications (UK and US) for Latin American Perspectives

issn

0094-582X

eissn

1552-678X

Copyright date

2016

Available date

2019-05-01

Publisher version

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0094582X16658257

Language

en

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