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New & Forthcoming Titles | Latin American Societies - Current Challenges in Social Sciences

Latin American Societies

Latin American Societies

Current Challenges in Social Sciences

Series Editors: Albala, Adrian, Alvarez Rivadulla, Maria Jose, Natal, Alejandro

ISSN: 2730-5538

This series aims at presenting to the international community original contributions by scholars working on Latin America. Such contributions will address the challenges that Latin American societies currently face as well as the ways they deal with these challenges. The series will be methodologically agnostic, that is: it welcomes case studies, small-N comparative studies or studies covering the whole region, as well as studies using qualitative or quantitative data (or a mix of both), as long as they are empirically rigorous and based on high-quality research. Besides exploring Latin American challenges, the series attempts to provide concepts, findings and theories that may shed light on other regions. The series will focus on seven axes of challenges:

 
1) Classes and inequalities 

The first set of challenges revolves around the creation and distribution of symbolic and material rewards across social groups and their crystallization in stratification systems. How have social classes changed in Latin America? Which are the causes and consequences of the growth of middle classes with considerable education levels which nonetheless remain vulnerable to falling into poverty due to economic crises? Why has poverty declined but inequality remained persistently high? Moving to other kinds of inequalities, have the gaps in rewards between men and women and between ethnic groups changed, and do they vary across countries? Which are the territorial expressions of inequality, and how do they affect access to housing and the formation of lower-class ghettoes?

 
2) Crime, security and violence 

The second set of challenges stem from the persistence of violence and insecurity among Latin Americans, which consistently rank crime and insecurity at the top of their biggest problems. Crime organizations – from youth gangs to drug cartels – have grown and became more professionalized, displacing state forces in considerable chunks of national territories and, in some cases, penetrating the political class through illegal campaign funding and bribes. To this we should add, in some countries of the region, the persistence of armed insurgents fighting against governmental forces and paramilitaries, therefore creating cross-fires that threaten the lives of civilians. This results in massive human rights violations – most of which remain in impunity – and forced population displacements.

 

3) Environmental threats

A third challenge is related to the sources and consequences of environmental change – especially human-related change. These consequences threaten not only Latin American’s material reproduction (e. g. by threatening water and food sources) but also deeply ingrained cultural practices and lifestyles. How do existing models of economic development affect the natural environment? What are their social consequences? How have governments and communities faced these challenges? Are there viable and desirable alternatives to economic extractivism? What are the environmental prospects of Latin America for the next few decades and which are their social implications?

 

4) Collective action

A fourth theme has to do with how collective actors – social movements, civil society organizations, and quasi-organized groups – deal with these challenges (and others). How have labor, indigenous, student, or women’s movements adapted to environmental, economic and political changes? To what extent have they been able to shape the contours of their issue areas? Have they been successful in fighting inequality, patriarchy, or racism? Have they improved the lives of their constituencies? Why under some circumstances does collective action radicalizes both in tactics and goals? We welcome studies on a wide array of collective actors working on different issues, with different tactics, and diverse ideological stances.

 

5) Cultural change and resistance

Culture – the understandings, symbols, and rituals that shape our quotidian – has never been static in Latin America, but modernization processes have affected it in complex ways. How has religion, lifestyles and values changed under market reforms and democratization processes? How multicultural are Latin American societies, and how they deal with the potential tensions derived from multiculturalism? Which are the causes and consequences of the decline in influence of the Catholic church, the awakening of new religious identities, and the growing sector of non-religious Latin Americans? How are new digital technologies and global consumption patterns shaping Latin Americans’ norms and beliefs about race, gender, and social classes? Are Latin Americans becoming “post-materialist”, and if so, why?

 

6) Migrations

Political, economic, and environmental crises, as well as promises of better opportunities in other lands, have encouraged Latin Americans to migrate within their national borders or beyond them. While during the 1970s Latin Americans often migrated to other regions, nowadays national crises encourage them to seek other destinations in more nearby countries. What causes migration patterns and how do they affect both expelling and receiving communities? How do migrants adapt to their new residence places and coexist with native populations? How does migration contribute to social capital, national identities and gang formation?

 

7) Political inclusion and representation

Dealing with social and ethnic minorities constitutes one of the most recurrent and unresolved challenges for the Latin American democracies. This topic includes the representation of the minorities, but includes also the study of the socio-political elites. Hence, how women are represented in the Latin American democracies? How are indigenous and blacks included into the socio-political arena? Which policies are being adopted for increasing the inclusion of such minorities? How representative are Latin American political elites?

 

Both solicited and unsolicited proposals will be considered for publication in the series.