Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Social Exclusion and Models of Development in Latin America

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Social Exclusion and Models of Development in Latin America

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article provides an analysis of the conditions of social exclusion that result from an implementation of the neoliberal model of capitalist development. The social impact of this model is examined in the context of developments in Latin America. In addition to this analysis, the article explores various attempts to address the salient conditions of social exclusion such as social inequalities in the distribution of income, the destruction of labour markets, and poverty. At issue are four theoretical models for addressing these issues. The article focuses particularly on the model that underlies the sustainable livelihoods approach to the problem of social exclusion. This model, and the approach based on it, is criticized because of an inherent concern to avoid the central issue of political power involved in the struggle for change and development.

Resume. Dans cet article, on analyse les raisons de l'exclusion sociale engendree par l'emploi du modele de developpement capitaliste de type neoliberal et, plus particulierement, l'impact social qu'un tel modele exerce en Amerique latine. On explore egalement les diverses tentatives entreprises pour venir a bout des conditions caracteristiques de l'exclusion sociale, telles que les inegalites de la repartition des revenus, la destruction des marches du travail, et la pauvrete. Pour traiter de ces questions, on se base sur quatre modeles. L'analyse porte particulierement sur le modele qui sous-tend l'approche des revenus durables aux problemes de l'exclusion sociale. Ce modele et l'approche qui en decoule sont critiques en raison d'un probleme inherent qui consiste a eviter d'aborder le role capital que joue le pouvoir politique dans la lutte pour le changement et le developpement.


Over the past two decades society after society in Latin America and elsewhere has been subjected to a process of structural adjustment and globalization and, in the process, far-reaching changes in the socioeconomic conditions of their development. Behind this development can be found the workings of a new economic model based on a neoliberal form of capitalist development promoted by the World Bank and other agencies of a New World Order (Bulmer-Thomas 1996; Veltmeyer and Petras 1997, 2000). Although the profound social impacts of this model have been well-documented and analyzed, questions remain as to the social conditions of these impacts as well as the diverse strategic--and political--responses that have been made to them. This article explores some of these issues in the Latin American context.

The article begins with broad reference to an offensive launched by capital against labour. This offensive, in the form of a neoliberal program of structural adjustments to the economy and a campaign for legislated labour reforms, is part of a protracted class war that can be traced back to the early 1970s both in Europe (Crouch and Pizzorno 1978; Davis 1984) and in Chile (Leiva and Petras 1994). In the context of this war, the working class in Latin America and elsewhere has borne the brunt of the structural adjustment process and its conditions of social exclusion. We identify and briefly review these conditions before turning toward the search for "another development"--alternative ways of thinking about "development" and putting it into practice. Whereas the dominant economic model of neoliberal capitalist development is initiated "from above" (from within the state apparatus) and "the outside" (bilateral and multilateral "foreign aid" agencies), models of alternative development depend on the agency of civil society--"from within and below." Two of these models are discussed, one elaborated by economists at the United Nations Comision Economica para America Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), the other currently advocated by reformers within the international development community.

The article ends with a brief assessment of this latter model for combating the condition of social exclusion and poverty. …

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