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“Proletarian Lives: Ideas, Routines, and Activism in a Poor People’s Movement”

Marcos Perez
Dr. Marcos Pérez
Washington and Lee University
MLC 213
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Sponsors: Latin American & Caribbean Studies Institute, Georgia Workshop on Culture, Power, and History, and Colloquium Committee

What are the political consequences, at the grassroots level, of working-class decline? Based on multi-year ethnographic fieldwork on the Unemployed Workers' Movement in Argentina, this presentation provides a case study of how workers affected by job loss protect their traditional forms of life by joining progressive community organizations. Life history interviews and participant observation show that a key appeal of this movement is the opportunity to engage in age- and gender-specific routines associated with a respectable blue-collar lifestyle threatened by long-term socioeconomic transformations. These findings have important implications for our understanding of how ideas and practices influence mobilization, especially among those who experience substantial barriers to involvement.

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