The identity of class in Latin America: objective class position and subjective class identification in Argentina and Chile (2009)
Class identity is a key mechanism in the explanation of class-based collective action. For decades, this was particularly relevant in Latin America, where objective class inequality was persistent and there was a long history of collective action, originating in the workplace and expressed through unions and labor parties. Despite persistent inequalities in the region, since the 1990s scholars increasingly claimed that the relation between objective class position and subjective class identification weakened significantly, and that class dynamics centered on work were no longer central to explain group formation and collective action among the popular sectors. While in countries like Argentina scholars have explained these processes by focusing on the effects of the de-industrialization of the economy and the informalization of the job market, in Chile analysts have done so by emphasizing the growth of the service sector and the emergence of a middle-class society where ‘old-fashioned working-class identities have become irrelevant. This article questions these arguments based on a comparative analysis of the relationship between objective class position and subjective class identification in Argentina and Chile in 2009. The results show that class still matters. In both countries, people with a working-class position or a working-class trajectory are significantly more likely to uphold working-class identity than individuals with a privileged class position or trajectory. Surprisingly, the authors analysis also demonstrates that the overall rates of working-class identification are higher in Chile than in Argentina. The authors explain these unexpected results by looking at contemporary class-related phenomena (e.g. higher inequality and economic concentration in Chile) and longer-term class dynamics (particularly differences stemming from the ‘radical party–union configuration in Chile and the state-corporatist incorporation of labor in Argentina).
Información de Publicación
Institución: Universidad Alberto HurtadoFacultad: Ciencias SocialesUnidad: Sociología
Institución: CONICET; Instituto Gino Germani / Universidad de Buenos AiresFacultad: Ciencias SocialesUnidad: Sociologia