Mobilization against Liberalization in Chile: The Failure of Neoliberal Promises as a Source of Grievance

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Amit Avigur-Eshel


Those who study mobilization in opposition to economic liberalization in Latin America commonly assert that neoliberal reforms are the source of grievance. This article argues that the 2011 student-led protests in Chili were motivated by a different issue. Students’ grievances originated in neoliberal promises—political and discursive constructs designed to shape popular expectations about “right” and gainful behavior in a political economy that had already been liberalized. These promises were disseminated by powerful political and social actors. I use the concept of promises to explain the massive entrance of young Chileans into the higher education system and show how difficulties with realizing promises was the source of the grievances that motivated student protests.

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