Title

Grassroots and the state: Perspectives from the neighbors' movement in Caracas, Venezuela

Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

International Relations

Advisor(s)

David Robinson

Keywords

grassroots movement Caracas, Venezuela

Subject Categories

International Relations | Political Science

Abstract

Despite the vast amounts of money spent on development efforts in Latin America by governments and international lending institutions alike in the last three and a half decades, many of them have not only failed to stimulate and promote development, but in many cases have been the cause for additional social, economic, and political burdens on Latin American societies. The failure of traditional development approaches to improve the conditions of ordinary people throughout the continent and the developing world has brought about an increased interest in an alternative development strategy centered on people rather than profits: grassroots development.

This study is a descriptive and exploratory investigation of the emergence, evolution, growth and effectiveness of a genuine grassroots movement: the neighbors' movement (movimiento vecinal) in Caracas, Venezuela. The legitimacy of the Venezuelan democratic system has been increasingly challenged by different sectors of society alienated by traditional forms of political organization. In the Venezuela of the 1990s one encounters a civil society in search of alternative means of representation and participation that no longer conform to the structures and processes that have functioned since 1958. This study describes and assesses the struggle of one such group, neighbors in urban neighborhood associations that has felt impotent since its development in 1961, but that in the last few crisis contexts that have arisen, has demonstrated its increasing effectiveness as a political power base.

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