The new socio-political matrix
Manuel Antonio GarretóN M.
This essay will begin by indicating some of the analytical principles that are relevant to the study of particular socio-political processes, within which democratization processes find their place. 1 First, it is necessary to go beyond a structural determinism according to which particular or national histories are merely illustrations of general laws. Likewise, it is necessary to overcome the vision of an essential and abstract correlation between economics, politics, culture and society; in other words, the idea that to a given economic system there must necessarily correspond a determined political or cultural form, or vice versa. This is not to deny that there are interactions between these spheres, but the scheme of interactions is a flexible one. There is no universal interaction or relationship between these dimensions, which are in any case impacted by globalization processes that act differently according to each context.
Second, it is necessary to emphasize the autonomy of social processes in relation to their “structural base.” It is not the task of the social sciences to construct a “natural history” of social structures and their dynamics, but to understand their meaning; and this cannot be done without introducing the concept of “social actor” or “social subject.” The central challenge in the social sciences lies in describing how a structural situation or category interacts with actors/units, and how actors constitute themselves and interact within a historical and institutional context that they themselves