Inequalities and the re-politicization of the social in Latin America

    Received: October 22, 2018

    Acceptance: August 29, 2019

    Image courtesy of Fabricio Atilano Ochoa.
    Image "The children of the brick" courtesy of Fernando Oscar Martín.
    Image courtesy of Héctor Adolfo Quintanar Pérez.


    The social question in Latin America has been depoliticized, since the 1980s, from the conception of deprivation imposed by the prevailing approaches to poverty. Although later, due to the importance acquired by the problem of inequality, the question of power could not be ignored, a perspective was imposed that has limited the understanding of conflict. In the present text and from an alternative proposal to address inequalities, where power and conflict gain prominence, we seek to re-politicize the social. In this regard, two sets of problems are addressed. The first has to do with the dynamics of deep disempowerment that the new model of globalized accumulation has generated, sustaining the (neo) liberal order, and that has led to a not inconsiderable part of the subaltern sectors being cornered in a situation of marginalization. Social. The second is that, despite this, there are responses from these sectors to resist this disempowerment and even partially reverse it. Among these responses, the following stand out: violence, migration, religiosity and collective action. It concludes with reflections on the relevance of thinking about inequalities from this perspective to see how the social, with the (neo) liberal order, has been re-politicized in a broad and profound way.

    Keywords: , , , , ,

    Inequality and the Re-politicization of the Social in Latin America

    Social issues in Latin America have been de-politicized since the 1980s, the outcome of a conception of scarcity that ordered the prevailing focus on poverty. While questions of power could not be avoided later, due to the importance of the inequality problem had been taken on, a perspective that impairs understanding conflict has been imposed. The present text –based on an alternative proposal for taking on inequality in which power and conflict occupy central positions– seeks to re-politicize the social. Two problem-sets are to be considered. The first relates to the dynamics of profound disempowerment that have arisen from a model of globalized accumulation, a pillar of the (neo) liberal order. It has led to a not-insignificant number of secondary sectors being pushed into social marginalization. Despite this, the second problem-set concerns these sectors' responses in resistance to disempowerment as well as disempowerment's partial reversal, notably in the form of violence, migration, religiosity and other collective actions. The essay ends with reflections on the pertinence of considering inequality from this perspective as a means of seeing how the social –vis-à-vis the (neo) liberal order– has widely and deeply re-politicized.

    Keywords: Inequality, neoliberalism, violence, migration, religiosity and social movements.

    Lhe decade of the 1980s of the last century implied profound transformations for Latin America. The social sphere was no exception, but one of its most drastic and least marked mutations was its resignification by the (neo) liberal order.1 The shortcomings were addressed from the poverty approach introduced by the World Bank, coming from the theory of basic needs, and that the cepal assumed quite uncritically. They were not understood in their opposition to opulences but in respect to standards set by experts. "Poor" and "rich" were not defined in terms of antagonism. Hence, the discussion on “poverty” in Latin America had a methodological emphasis, with very elaborate proposals, but with hardly any substantive debate on its theoretical foundations.2 The main consequence was that, in the understanding of the deficiencies, all references to power and conflict were evacuated. In this way, the social question in the region was de-politicized for several decades (Pérez Sáinz, 2012).3

    The consolidation of the (neo) liberal order with a new accumulation model inserted in the globalizing process and the generalization of electoral democratic regimes meant that social deficits began to politicize again.4 The problem of inequality emerged and international organizations did not take long to position themselves in this regard: the Inter-American Development Bank at the end of the last century (bid, 1999), the World Bank a few years later (De Ferranti et al., 2004) and cepal (2010) at the end of the first decade of this century.5 From there, a societal imaginary about inequality that enjoys hegemony has been generated and that has structured common sense on this issue. The predominant view is focused on income inequality between people, normally measured by the Gini coefficient from the information collected by household surveys. But it is a limited look that fails to capture such depth and understand the persistence of this phenomenon, due to various reasons.

    The first is that looking at the home is to focus on redistribution, but before there has been a distribution that is ignored because it is taken for granted and is not problematized. Second, income is an outcome, and if it is limited to it, the causes of inequalities are not sufficiently understood. Third, focusing on households, as it is understood as a mere aggregate of people, supposes privileging individuals as subjects of inequalities, and this is a partial vision because it ignores the incidence of other social subjects. And finally, due to the source of information used, the household surveys, those who truly monopolize the wealth, the elites, are not captured, so there is no true understanding of the power that is the basis of inequalities.6 That is to say, the re-politicization of the social, from this perspective on inequalities, is limited and does not question - substantively - the prevailing order. Therefore, another type of look based on different premises is necessary.

    The first is that the issue of power must be rescued in order to understand inequalities as disempowerment processes. This is essential to achieve a solid re-politicization of the social and, in this sense, the proposal of Lukes (2004) is followed, who intrinsically articulates power with conflict.7 Second, the gaze must be shifted from the sphere of redistribution to that of distribution. This means focusing on basic markets: labor, capital and land.8 Thirdly, as a corollary to the above, while the configuration of conditions for the generation and appropriation of economic surplus takes place in these markets, it is by analyzing this problem that the processes that create inequalities are understood. And fourth, it is necessary to have a plural understanding of the subjects, because in the struggle for the surplus, social classes cannot be ignored as a social subject. In addition, it is necessary to incorporate the problem of differences and explain when these become inequalities. This implies that, along with social classes and individuals, we must take into account the categorical pairs that refer to oppositions of different nature (gender, ethnicity, territory, etc.). Consequently, this new look shifts to distribution, prioritizes the problem of surplus and pluralizes the subjects who enter into struggle for such surplus through disempowerment dynamics (Pérez Sáinz, 2014, 2016).

    From these premises it is thought that a more solid perspective of re-politicization of the social can be offered. To show it, in this text we want to address two questions in separate sections.9 The first has to do with the dynamics of deep disempowerment that the new model of globalized accumulation has generated, sustaining the (neo) liberal order, and that has led to a not inconsiderable part of the subaltern sectors being cornered in a situation of marginalization. Social. The second is that, despite this, there are responses from these sectors to resist this disempowerment and even achieve some empowerment. It concludes with reflections on the relevance of thinking about inequalities from this perspective to see how the social, with the (neo) liberal order, has been re-politicized in a broad and profound way.

    (Neo) liberal order, extreme inequalities and disempowerment

    Based on this alternative approach, four historical keys have been proposed to understand this type of inequality in Latin America: the labor market has tended to generate work before employment, showing asymmetries in favor of capital; smallholders have been systematically excluded from accumulation opportunities that have been seized by elites; the processes of constitution of citizenship, especially the social one, have been fragile and have resulted in dynamics of individualization with weak supports; and the differences have tended to be processed in terms of inferiorization or imposed assimilation (Pérez Sáinz, 2014, 2016).

    Focusing on the current prevailing (neo) liberal order in the region, one can succinctly identify dynamics of extreme disempowerment with respect to each of these keys.

    The precariousness of the wage-earning world

    In terms of the labor market, the central problem is the precariousness of the world of wages. We are facing a phenomenon whose importance has been underlined in recent times (Lindenboim and Pérez, 2004; Arellano et al., 2009; Castillo Fernández, 2009; Mora Salas, 2010; Pacheco et al. 2012; Guadarrama et al., 2012). Its dimensions are various and complex.

    The first has to do with business strategies that, in the face of openness and global competition, could not continue to transfer wage costs to consumers as happened in the protectionist framework of import substitution industrialization (Murillo, 2001). This raised the need to drastically redefine the capital / labor relationship seeking the disempowerment of wage earners. Two have been the strategies followed and they are closely linked: the outsourcing of tasks and functions that were traditionally carried out within companies and their subsequent subcontracting as outside activities. The first of them has generated a fracture of the workers between a nucleus that normally remains in the original company and that enjoys certain rights, and a periphery without rights and - therefore - deeply disempowered (Iranzo and Leite, 2006). But even more important is that this disempowerment is underpinned by the second strategy, since the outsourcing nexus loses its labor character to become a relationship between companies. In this way, the phenomenon of delaborization occurs in which commercial law replaces labor law, totally mystifying the relationship between capital and labor (Celis and Valencia Olivero, 2011). This is the most unequivocal expression of the disempowerment of workers in this dimension of precariousness.

    A second dimension has had to do with labor deregulation. Regardless of the greater or lesser deregulation that has characterized each society, what is significant is that labor standards do not tend to be complied with de facto. Thus, as Bensusán (2009) points out, despite the fact that Latin America is a region where there is a high level of ratification of international labor conventions, those referring to the full exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining, fundamental to enforce other labor rights are not guaranteed in most countries.

    Thirdly, it is necessary to mention the crisis of the collective action of the workers and, in particular, of the trade union movement. The decline in the unionization rate –at the regional level– from 22.9% before the crisis of the 1980s to 10.7% at the beginning of this century shows this profound weakening (Roberts, 2012: table 1). But its most dire effect is that workers, either through subordinate company unions or directly, must negotiate their working conditions individually. The asymmetry of the capital / labor ratio tends to be maximized in this type of negotiation to the detriment of employees.

    But with regard to the labor market, it is necessary to point out another disempowering dynamic of workers: unemployment. It is not so much the function of pressing down wages due to the excess supply of labor, but rather that it represents a threat of substitution of workers, which implies discipline for those threatened. In this way, having a job ends up conferring a status of privilege to be defended at any price and that generates a deep feeling of fear of losing it, which is why the asymmetry that sustains it is accepted (Correa Montoya, 2009).

    The exclusion of smallholders from globalization

    Regarding the second historical key, that of the exclusion of small owners from accumulation opportunities, there are two phenomena to highlight in terms of the disempowerment of subaltern sectors: the global offensive on lands and territories and the configuration, within the new model of accumulation, of a pole of exclusion.

    In globalized modernization we are witnessing an offensive to control the land by large companies that suggests the "liberal offensive" of the oligarchic period, at the end of the century. xix, against corporate lands, especially community lands. The first step has been the promotion of land markets, which have represented one of the central components of (neo) liberal agrarian policy, in order to ensure private ownership of this means of production. The result of this commodification is that the land has lost its character as a means of life, which provides basic food, to become a means of generating foreign exchange (Teubal and Rodríguez, 2002). But, probably, the great global offensive has taken place in terms of control of territories by the so-called “neo-extractivism”.10 This phenomenon expresses a deep asymmetry between globalized capital and the local community, in which the former tends to deprive the latter of part of its territory. In addition, this asymmetry can acquire a symbolic dimension expressed in the contempt, from the dominant discourse, of ancestral knowledge about nature.

    The second phenomenon in this field of surplus inequalities refers to the configuration of a pole of exclusion within the accumulation model induced by globalization. At this pole is the structural surplus of labor force generated in the period of national modernization, but which has been subjected to transformations. One of them has to do with urban activities known as informal in the previous period and with peasant production that provides basic grains for the urban population, which in the current context of globalization have lost their functionality of yesteryear (Rubio, 2003). In this way, they become non-functional and therefore expendable. That is, it has become a marginal mass, in the classic sense of this term (Pérez Sáinz, 2016).11

    Multiple individualization dynamics, but all fragile, for subordinate sectors

    As for the third historical key, the one referring to the fragile nature of the individualization processes due to the weakness of the supports and, specifically, of social citizenship, the (neo) liberal order has led to significant transformations of such citizenship, which historically it was linked to formal employment. Its basic nucleus, education and social security (pensions and health), has been commercialized, which has resulted in the stratification of its access, giving rise to differentiated processes of individualization.12 Thus, the subaltern sectors, with lower levels of coverage and, above all, of lower quality, have the most fragile supports. A second mutation, which directly affects these same sectors, has been to return to the split between work and citizenship and redefine the latter in terms of “poverty”. But, as pointed out in the introduction, we are dealing with a non-relational understanding of deficiencies that avoids any reference to power and conflict and that has created an imaginary social subject: “the poor”.

    However, it can be argued that the main process of individualization in the (neo) liberal order, which would generate solid supports, would be consumerism. In this sense, it has been pointed out that social inclusion in globalized modernization does not go through the world of work, salaried or not, but through access to certain goods and services. In other words, such access would constitute a new level of equalization showing the democratizing power of consumerism. But this supposed democratization can be questioned from various angles. First, the existence of a minimum consumption shared by the whole society is contradicted by the stratified access, already mentioned, to social services that represent basic public goods. Second, although globalization has made possible access to certain assets that once differentiated socially, thus minimizing resentment, this argument is relativized with the new generations that do not have those historical references. On the contrary, the new “necessary” goods, in the sense smithian social belonging, are permanently redefined from above, so that social differences persist and, therefore, the source of social resentment does not disappear. Finally, although at the beginning of this century it was difficult to refute the thesis of the displacement of the center of social action from production to consumption, the crisis of capitalism –which began in 2007– has shown the limits of consumption based on a capacity for indebtedness. that was thought unlimited. Production and work, as central components of the real economy, are back (Pérez Sáinz, 2016).

    Processing differences that continue to generate inequalities

    Finally, there would be the historical key referring to the processing of differences. Curiously, it has been during globalized modernization that the two most important recognition processes in the history of the region have taken place: that of indigenous people (and, to a lesser extent, of Afro-descendants) and that of women. However, both are culminations of processes that began earlier. Thus, in the case of the indigenous people, we must refer to a "long march" that began in the 19th century. xix, and in the case of women to the so-called “second feminist wave”, which began in the 1970s. The unavoidable question is the following: are the achievements obtained sufficient to postulate that, in Latin America, the differences no longer exist? be processed through inferiorization? Our answer is negative for several reasons.

    In the first place, being the result of struggles developed by the subordinate groups themselves, the elites do not fully assume such recognition; in fact, there may be rethinking to redefine inferiorization, as would be the case of “cultural racism” (Hale, 2002; González Ponciano, 2004). In other words, these recognition processes are not the result of “kind” dynamics of the (neo) liberal order, although it has wanted to appropriate them through its multiculturalism proposal (Bastos and Camus, 2004; Hooker, 2005). Second, there is usually a hiatus between recognition embodied in legal texts and ignorance (that is, non-recognition) of fact. Third, the categories of the different category pairs, when they tend to match, especially in the labor market, tend to do so "downward." This has been the case with the closing of wage gaps in terms of ethnicity and, above all, in terms of gender (Escobar Latapí, 1999; Gálvez, 2001; Figueiredo Santos, 2005; Barbary and Estacio Moreno, 2008). Fourth, recognition can lead to the “self-segregation” of the subordinate category, generating new inequalities, as can be thought in relation to certain ethnic spaces that are forbidden to non-indigenous people. Finally, these achievements of recognition are devalued because globalization privileges consumerism over citizenship (Pérez Sáinz, 2016).

    In fact, the manifestations of extreme inequalities noted in the basic markets show couplings between class dynamics and categorical pairs. Thus, the precariousness of wage relationships is not unrelated to the growing feminization of labor markets in the region. Women, although they still suffer from primary segregation problems because their activity rates are still lower than those of men, are affected by secondary segregation because they constitute a large part of the workforce in that periphery that outsourcing business strategies have generated, and they are located at the lower levels of the subcontracting chains (Iranzo and Leite, 2006; De la O and Guadarrama, 2006). In other words, precariousness and feminization of the world of work are two sides of the same coin (Pérez Sáinz, 2016). And when they manage to overcome this segregation, they are faced with discrimination, especially salary.

    It is also necessary to point out coupling in the field of hoarding of accumulation opportunities with the territorial category pair. Thus, the phenomenon of “neo-extractivism” opposes capital of global reach with the community confined to the local. Global asymmetry versus local is a fundamental element of this phenomenon. The ethnic pair works in a similar way when the community is indigenous, as it usually happens in a good number of cases of “neo-extractivist” projects. In fact, this ethnic category pair also affects the other field of surplus inequalities. This would be the case of labor migrations where ethnic niches characterized by precariousness are generated. As Bastos Amigo (forthcoming publication) points out, global (neo) liberalism recreates ethnicity by deepening inequalities that tend to become institutionalized through the “stamentalization” of society, where a minority of groups proclaim themselves different and impose special jurisdictions to regulate your actions. The rest of society is subjected to a progressive loss of historically acquired rights that has effects on citizenship processes, as will be argued in the next section. It is a return to the colonial class order, but without the corporate counterweight that those below had.13

    In short, in globalized modernization the processes of extreme inequalities have generated multiple dynamics of social exclusion. Thus, the precariousness of salaried relations has led to the de-employment of labor relations, cuts in labor rights due to state deregulation and, above all, de facto, and action limited to the individual. In addition to this, it is necessary to point out the almost unlimited threat of substitution of the worker that unemployment implies. In the other field of surplus inequalities, sectors have been generated, especially within the peasantry, which are non-functional to the accumulation process and, therefore, dispensable. Furthermore, global “neo-extractivism” is dispossessing local communities of their territories. On the other hand, no processes are detected, including consumerism, of individualization of the subaltern sectors with solid supports. And finally, inferiorization and non-generous assimilation are still in force and generate categorical pairs that are coupled to class dynamics in basic markets, as shown by the gender pair in the labor market, the territorial pair in the field of hoarding of accumulation opportunities, and ethnicity in both. It is this constellation of phenomena that currently shapes the world of marginalization, which is the problem that is addressed in the next section.

    Social marginalization and responses to disempowerment

    This set of dynamics of deep disempowerment, the result of extreme inequalities in globalized modernization, crystallize in the world of marginalization. This crystallization is manifested in three basic phenomena: deprivation, de-citizenship and invisibility. It should be clarified that these phenomena are not exclusive to the (neo) liberal order, but rather that their genesis is prior.

    Marginalization and its dimensions

    Marginalization represents a world of material and symbolic deprivation. Suffering from extreme precariousness or unemployment implies that the means that can be obtained for survival are very limited. Likewise, the possibilities of accessing true accumulation opportunities from that world are practically non-existent. Self-generated non-salaried activities are trapped in the subsistence demands of the respective household, without the possibility of becoming more dynamic. In other words, we are facing a universe of scarcity and deprivation.

    Concomitantly, it is a world where there can hardly be any rights and, therefore, citizenship is blurred. In other words, de-citizenship is another fundamental feature of social marginalization. Although this phenomenon can be associated with the marginal presence of the State,14 It responds fundamentally to the “stamentalization” tendencies imposed by the (neo) liberal order, as indicated in the preceding section. It may be that citizenship is universalized, but it does so in a stratified manner. Not all the population has de facto the same rights, especially the one that is located on the margins of society.

    Finally, the difference of this world is processed by the elites in terms of inferiorization, because they represent their population as diminished citizens trapped in misery. But this inferiorization acquires a peculiar feature: invisibility. In other words, the prevailing order tries to ignore that fringe of marginalization as a mass without any functionality, as if it were not part of society itself and a result of the power relations that define such order.15 It is the shore, and as such it is not visualized.

    These three phenomena, deficiencies, de-citizenship and invisibility, constitute the structuring nucleus of the phenomenon of social marginalization. Due to the variety and breadth of disempowering tendencies - pointed out in the previous section - a large part of the subaltern sectors are affected by these phenomena, if not effectively, at least as current threats. However, despite the profound disempowerment they invoke, they do not imply that the population that suffers from them is in fact helpless and trapped. Every social subject, no matter how disempowered he may be, must face his existence and deal with it. This entails understanding their reality, interpreting it by giving it meanings and developing tools to control it through action. Without these three basic psychosocial mechanisms there would be no social action. Therefore, there is always a minimal subjective empowerment (Zetino Duarte, 2006). In other words, power relations are never totally asymmetrical, because there is always some kind of resistance that seeks to modify the conditions of reality, making the conflict persist and not disappear. It is precisely from this base that, from the marginalization itself, diverse responses are generated that question it: the feared, which is expressed in violence; the exit, which materializes in migration; the magic, which seeks the refuge of religiosity, and the one based on collective action, which can give rise to social movements.16

    The repertoire of responses from marginalization

    It is pointed out that these four dynamics are responses because they do not originate exogenously to social marginalization, but are induced by it, without this implying affirming that it is its sole cause or its main cause.

    The suffering of deprivation allows two routes to violence, as Savenije and Andrade-Eekhoff (2003) have argued. Thus, on the one hand, subjects may feel frustrated by their deprivations. They can remain helpless in such a situation, isolated in discontent. But frustration can be projected socially, through a relational exercise, when subjects contrast their deficiencies with the opulence of others within the horizon of their worldview. When it implies that the deprived subject aspires to be the opulent subject through a symbolic investment, the result is resentment (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 2005), which can become a catalyst for acts of violence. On the other hand, the deficiencies can be addressed not from the emotional but from the intentional, while the subjects would like to hoard valuable material and symbolic goods. As in a situation of social marginalization such assets are scarce and difficult to access, the use of violence would emerge as an effective mechanism. To this must be added the marginal presence of the State which, by failing to impose its monopoly of coercion, makes it possible for violent actors to emerge that end up controlling those territories, imposing new regulations –of a discretionary nature– that hinder the development of rights.17 It can be thought that, in these territories, citizenship is replaced by the existence of populations that these violent actors “manage”.

    According to Márquez Covarrubias and Delgado Wise (2012), (neo) liberal globalization has meant that migrations become “forced”. Of the different modalities identified by these authors, two can be related to social marginalization: due to dispossession of means of production and subsistence, and due to social exclusion, structural unemployment and poverty.18 The term "forced" unequivocally points to disempowerment, but it needs to be qualified. For this, it is useful to resort to the proposal of Zetino Duarte and Avelar (2016), who have proposed three levels to consider in the premigration phase to understand the reasons for migration; levels that constitute two fields of power. The first would be that of society itself, and there the disempowering dynamics resulting from extreme inequalities would materialize, as has been proposed in the preceding section. A second level is that of community relations, with respect to which one can point out –at least– three factors that can influence: successful migration stories that generate pressures of a symbolic order, because migrating would express community prestige; territories on the margins of the State and where violence would be a key factor in explaining migration; destruction of community habitat, as can happen with the impact of “neo-extractivism”, which would represent the central factor in explaining population displacement.19 The last level to consider would be the space of immediate relationships within the family environment, which is where the issue of deficiencies is confronted. Migration would be the answer to try to alleviate them or prevent their threat from becoming a reality.

    For its part, religiosity is associated with the phenomenon of de-citizenship, but in a peculiar way. In the preceding section, it has been pointed out that one of the key characteristics of the current globalized modernization is the proliferation of individualization dynamics, but that –in the case of the subaltern sectors– it provides fragile supports. Religiosity could offer these sectors less weak supports. At the base of this is the trend towards the deinstitutionalization of religious practices. Its main consequence is that the search for the transcendent, which is what defines the specificity of the religious, tends to occur individually. The diversity of religiosities is associated with distrust of institutional mediations, be they of the Catholic Church or historical Protestantisms (Miguez, 2000). In other words, such mediations are shunned and the individualization of religiosity is reinforced and, in this regard, Pentecostalism plays a key role. It is necessary to clarify, as De la Torre (2012) does, that this religiosity does not constitute a confession or a church, but rather a current that runs through the different Christian churches, including the Catholic Church itself, as witnessed by the phenomenon of the movement charismatic. In this sense, the hypothesis of a “silent revolution” has been hinted at where this new ethic would conform to the spirit of globalized, deregulated and (neo) liberal capitalism (Mardones, 2005). A parallel has been established in terms of privatization between (neo) liberalism and fundamentalist Pentecostalism: while the former promotes the privatization of the state, the latter would do so with faith (Ceballos, 2008).

    Regarding collective action, the deficiencies are related in terms of direct disempowerment processes of the basic markets. This implies that the responses that may arise have a class component, although it would not be the only factor that would explain such collective action. It is important to emphasize that the phenomenon of disempowerment is related to the problem of threats, because the greater the threat, the more credible it becomes. In this sense, Almeida's (2015) approach that certain kinds of threats do not discourage collective action but rather the opposite, as long as there is a certain organizational capacity, is totally pertinent to establish the link between deficiencies and collective action. In this regard, this author raises three types of threats: repressive, those generated by economic actions of the State and environmental ones. Precisely, disempowering dynamics generated in the two fields of surplus inequalities, indicated in the preceding section, refer to the second and third types of threat.

    How well do these responses slow down disempowerment and even reverse it? An attempt is made to answer very succinctly. To do this, we will resort, as mentioned in the introduction, to Lukes's (2004) proposal on his conception of power, which is the one we have used in previous texts on inequalities and social exclusion. Let us remember that this author addresses the issue of power in terms of conflict and identifies three types of situations that would express differentiated power relations: open, covert and latent conflict.

    Religiosity and latent conflict

    Starting with this last modality of power, it is postulated that the response based on religiosity, especially the Pentecostal, would respond to this type. Thus, the conversion to Pentecostalism in contexts of social marginalization has helped to better adapt to the conditions of deprivation and violence and the psychological pressures that it entails (Garma Navarro, 2004; Antequera, 2008; Cantón, 2008). As Mansilla (2012: 195) points out, Pentecostalism transforms needs into virtues: hunger in fasting, old clothes into spiritual luxury, material poverty into spiritual virtue, precarious housing into spiritual dwelling or the physical body into spirit. In this way, the prevailing social order is not questioned, but rather it is reproduced. This affinity is even more evident with "neo-Pentecostalism." Thus the Theology of Prosperity, its ideological base, raises a relationship between communion with God and material well-being based on three basic ideas: positive confession internalizing the word of God regarding one's own life to publicly witness to it; economic liberation by exorcising the demons of poverty, and the sacramental character of tithes (Semán, 2005). In this way, although individualism is maintained, it would no longer be confined to local communities of an emotional nature. It is about transcending the level of society as a whole, which would be the realm of the Kingdom of God, a space of accumulation where believers must have a leading role. Obedient stewardship would be the asceticism of the globalized businessman in order to accumulate; in this sense capitalism and freedom are homologated (Coto Murillo and Salgado Ramírez, 2008: 112).

    This does not imply that this response is simply disempowering marginalized subaltern sectors because it condemns them to alienation. The promise of economic success raises the horizon of social mobility that, as is known, is accessible to very few in this world of social marginalization, but it positions the symbolic force of illusion. Perhaps more important is the resignification of deficiencies as virtues, because it implies giving meaning to survival, which, in this type of context, is not a minor achievement. That is to say, it is a response that can make the potentiality of the symbolic prevail over the hardships of the material.

    On the other hand, this response does not have a major impact in terms of de-citizenship because, as in consumerism, there is a transition from the individual / citizen to the individual / believer, in this case. In other words, the individualization that this type of religiosity induces does not pass through citizenship. And inferiorization, which sustains invisibility, does not appear as a problem to confront either. In the case of "self-exclusion," with "estrangement from the world," asceticism that glorifies deficiencies supposes spiritual superiority over the opulent and their material wealth. And in terms of financial success, those who don't are, according to Prosperity Theology, bad stewards who deserve to be treated as inferior. In other words, this response does not address these two dimensions of social marginalization, and thus affirms its reproductive nature of the current social order.

    It could be concluded, as a hypothesis to be explored in the future, that this type of religiosity offers certain subaltern sectors the possibility of being individuals within contexts of social marginalization. In this sense, there would be another dynamic of individualization, fostered by the (neo) liberal order and different from that based on consumerism, but more appropriate to this world. The problem lies in the adverb “inside”, because it would imply a confined individualization that, in addition, what it offers are, fundamentally, symbolic supports. Therefore, it is a response that can be classified as adaptive.

    Migration as a covert conflict

    The covert conflict-based mode of power could be associated with the migration-based response. However, it should be noted, first of all, that there are empowerment possibilities that are expressed mainly through three phenomena: the use of remittances for investment purposes, especially in a business (Papail, 2002; Massey, Durand and Riosmena , 2006); voluntary return in order to develop their own business or stop working, and the constitution of what is called the “transnational collective migrant” (García Zamora, 2005; Moctezuma, 2008; Delgado Wise and Márquez Covarrubias, 2009). However, these possibilities are limited.

    Regarding the latter, although it is before a subject with binational recognition and with the ability to negotiate with the State, and who also, through collective remittances, manages to generate a savings fund for collective use (Moctezuma Longoria and Pérez Veyna, 2006), experiences of this type are not generalized. Regarding voluntary return, an analysis of the last three census observations from Mexico where returnees are compared with workers of similar characteristics and internal migrants yields several relevant conclusions. First, the chances of retreating from the labor market for returnees have diminished over time. Concomitantly, the returnee's image of success that conferred that status has deteriorated. Second, while returnees have an even greater chance of creating businesses, that option has also diminished over time. A corollary of this, in the third place, is that the return implies increasing salary with deterioration in remuneration, a deterioration that also affects the income of self-employed workers. Finally, these trends do not show differences neither by gender nor territorially between regions of old and new migration (Parrado and Gutiérrez, 2016). In other words, the empowering possibilities of voluntary return appear to be eroding. Finally, there is a great consensus in the literature that the main use of remittances is not for investment purposes but to solve basic deficiencies. In this regard, one of the findings for the Mexican case of Canales (2008: 228 et seq.) Is illustrative: that of every four people who receive remittances in that country, only one manages to significantly improve their living conditions through social mobility. . These are findings that we suspect are not limited to the Mexican reality. In other words, as this author argues, the remittance acts as a salary fund that serves, fundamentally, to alleviate the situation of deprivation in the home, but not to solve the structural causes that generate it.

    In this sense, it can be argued that migration linked to a context of social marginalization fundamentally implies resistance to disempowerment. But, paradoxically, the members who migrate end up being subjected to an intense disempowerment, which goes beyond suffering from deficiencies, and also includes profound processes of de-citizenship and invisibility. In other words, we are dealing with a family strategy of a “sacrificial” nature.20

    Thus, in transit and taking as a reference Central American migration through Mexico in recent times, we are facing a journey of horror and disempowerment that reaches extreme expressions of dehumanization of migrants. If the modality is with the use of "coyotes" or "polleros", these, asserting their status as "logistics manager" (Gaborit et al., 2012) control people by appropriating their documentation. The disempowerment experience, which is usually at the origin of the undocumented migratory act, means that the migrant is not perceived as a subject of law, which is an expression of the de-citizenship that characterizes social marginalization. From there, a process of progressive loss of humanity begins, both in terms of existential rights (to speak, eat, express feelings, etc.) and values (understanding, solidarity, respect, etc.), and the migrant ends up shedding. of fundamental human attributes (identity, will, dignity, etc.). The dehumanization of the migrant person entails their objectification, which makes some "coyotes" consider the people who transfer mere merchandise that they can exchange (Gaborit et al., 2012).21 In addition, we must mention the recent transformations in the figure of "coyotaje", because it has gone from a well-known person in the community, usually a member of it, who accompanied throughout the journey, to a chain of trafficking of people with different stages in charge of different guides. These are unknown by migrants and their families and they are contacted through a new actor: the community promoter of migration (Zetino Duarte and Avelar, 2016). This new configuration does not seem to be immune to the consequences of the new “securitization” policy of the United States, which forces the search for new routes that increase costs and risks for migrants (Sandoval García, 2015). These increases are related to the fact that the new routes often cross the territories of criminal organizations. There are extra payments for passing them, but even more tragic is the possibility of the kidnapping and murder of migrants at the hands of groups of such organizations (Carrasco González, 2013; Castillo and Nájera, 2015; Sandoval García, 2015).22 In other words, the traditional “coyotes” have been replaced by what Camus (2012: 82) calls “narcocoyotes”.

    These risks are even more evident when the migration is on your own. Migrants are confronted with the filters of the "vertical border" that Mexico has become. It is not only about the operations, checkpoints or arrests by the authorities, but also that these have turned undocumented Central American migrants into victims of criminal organizations and increased the risks. It would be before a new manifestation of the border as the space-threshold of violence, where what is at stake is life itself, which can be authorized or denied (Reguillo, 2012). Thus, what was supposed to be a temporary situation, the mere passage through a territory, turns into increasing mobility difficulties, and that population is trapped in Mexican territory (Silva Hernández, 2015). The result has been the criminalization of migrants and the militarization of immigration controls. In fact, the border is a space where migration and drug trafficking converge, and the official discourse presents them as linked phenomena (Sandoval García, 2015; Segura Mena, 2016). This "precarious transit zone" becomes a space where multiple forms of violence converge. In this sense, the proposal of Camus (2017) to consider it also as a “gray area” is pertinent, since the distinction of actors in terms of perpetrators and victims is lost, because there are abuses among the migrants themselves as part of the strategies survival limits.23

    There is also disempowerment in duty stations.24 Thus, there is secondary segregation in the labor market due to its confinement to labor niches: seasonal agricultural work, construction for men and domestic service for women in urban areas. Furthermore, if migrants are made visible because their niches become attractive in the workplace due to the reduction in occupational opportunities in the respective country, they suffer the onslaught of xenophobia (Grimson, 2006). This manifestation of inferiorization is not of recent date, but is inscribed in the histories of countries receiving migrants such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile and without forgetting the Dominican Republic.25 In fact, in the construction of the national imaginary, the otherness of migrants has played a central role (Novick, 2008; Domenech, 2011; Monclús Masó and García, 2012; Sandoval García, 2002; Alvarenga Venútolo, 2007; Stefoni, 2011; Silié, Segura and Dore Cabral, 2002; Wooding and Moseley-Williams: 2004). Consequently, we are dealing with diminished citizens (Morales Gamboa, 2007). This restricted citizenship as a mechanism for the social regulation of immigrants establishes a regime of illegalities, enabling two other mechanisms of control over immigrants that generate a double social spatialization: one vertical, based on hierarchical racism, and the other horizontal, based on fundamentalism. cultural that excludes. There are three mechanisms that disempower immigrants: racism marks their bodies associating moral attributes with physical traits; fundamentalism essentializes differences to justify segregation, and difficulties in accessing citizenship generate a denied existence of immigrants. In this way, the immigrant subject is configured in a triple way: as inferior, as a stranger and as a clandestine (Caggiano, 2008).

    But despite these multiple disempowerment, both in transit and at the destination, (in) migrants silently resist so that the home of origin can oppose the threat of social marginalization and the disempowerment that it entails. It is a response of resistance.

    The remaining two responses are those that have the most potential for empowerment, because they arise in the field of open conflict. But, precisely, the asymmetry of the confrontation determines whether such possibilities materialize and to what extent. However, each of these responses has very different foundations and must be differentiated.

    Violence and open conflict

    In terms of violence, a first type of response refers to what has already been mentioned about resentment. But you have to add two elements. The first is that, with today's globalization, resentment is reinforced by consumer frustrations. The second is that the subject who suffers the most are young people from subaltern sectors who, given the meagerness of their labor income, which normally represent contributions to the income of the respective household, transgress the law to satisfy their consumer needs (Kessler, 2002; Ramos, 2004; Calderón Umaña, 2012). But it is a violence that is not truly empowering, due to its occasional nature and dependent on consumer impulses. Different is the case of other types of violence that emerge from the marginal presence of the State and that have a strong territorial anchor: that carried out by local groups excluded from the coverage of state security and access to the judicial system and who take punitive actions on their own. ; that of a mixed nature (predominantly social but also with a profit dimension) and that expresses the transgressive and criminal behaviors of young people in territories they control; the one that has a markedly beneficial character, because it is exercised by criminal organizations.

    Regarding the first, there are cases where the limits of the State reflect the historical diffusion of coercive power, because the differentiations between State and society and between public and private have been unfinished (Vilas, 2003). Reactions against cattle rustling, especially in the Andean world, or the kidnapping of children in Mexico and Guatemala are examples of this. Recently, the case of the Mexican community self-defense groups stands out, where the ethnic condition establishes important differences, because in the case of indigenous communities, they are subject to local authorities and traditions of self-government, while in the mestizas, vigilantism based on the code tends to predominate. rancher26and that can lead to factionalism and clientelism within communities and even end up subordinated to the interests of criminal organizations (Gledhill, 2015; Guerra Manzo, 2015). It is a scenario of an “aggressive victim” (Romero Salazar and Rujano Roque, 2007: 160) where self-defense is considered legitimate violence.

    As for violent gangs, their empowerment as perpetrators is multi-faceted. The first refers to its double nature which, in terms of the Central American reality, is expressed in the gang / gang duality.mara: they fill gaps that were generated in the family and / or at school by socializing and generating identity, but they also imply the acceptance of rules and commitments guaranteed by violence within the group. It appears as an instrument of social unrest that is not projected towards political protest. These young men have been regarded as primitive rebels (eric et al., 2001) or, in the terms of Perea Restrepo (2004: 33), young gang members would be neither heroes nor criminals.

    The second has to do with the sacredness of the territory and what makes it its source of power (Perea Restrepo, 2004; Pesca Pita et al., 2011). It would be based on territorial practices of delimitation and control of space that this “we” that gangs would embody would become possible (Riaño Alcalá, 2006). The corollary of this is the dispute over the territory with other youth gangs. This is the “main other” and defines, par excellence, group identity and cohesion, which is why the murder of the opponent also seeks to erase his gang affiliation (Nateras Domínguez, 2009; Savenije, 2011).

    The provision of certain community assets would be a third element to consider and that is shared by criminal organizations. Thus, these violent actors can provide four essential goods for local life: protection from external aggressions, mediation of intra-community conflicts, be they domestic or between neighbors, mediation of community activity by filtering and allowing actions of extra-community agents and institutions, and celebration of festive activities. that recreate the community and that are highly valued by the inhabitants (Perea et al., 2014). It should be added that, while this provision seeks to legitimize the dimension of violence, it is also intended to be a monopolized supply of these essential goods, preventing other actors from doing so.

    A fourth feature has to do with its translocal dimension; that is, there is an articulation between the local, the excluded urban marginal territory, and the global. It is known that, in the case of maras In Central America, the experiences of young people in gangs in the United States, subsequently deported to their countries of origin, seem to have been key in the gestation and development of these types of groups, which led to the leap from transgressive to violent gangs and which has led to the construction of lethal enmities (Savenije, 2011). These deportations represented the "reinvention" of the maras by themselves and involved a transformation beyond street gangs (wola, 2006).

    Finally, there may be avoidable trajectories that guide gangs to their subordinate articulation with criminal organizations, as has happened in El Salvador, Colombia (Medellín or Cali) and Mexico (Ciudad Juárez) (Savanije, 2011; Riaño Alcalá, 2006; Concha-Eastman and Concha, 2014; Alanís Legaspi and Durán Martínez, 2014; Cruz Sierra, 2014). This subordination of the gang to the criminal organization implies important transformations in the behavior of its members: from violence based on resentment and support of masculinity, one passes to subordination to the rules of the business; of "parallel time"27 it transitions to the productive of illegal work; the territory loses its identity value and becomes a strategic corridor; subjectivity becomes more reflective and self-controlled, and hatred of the enemy is replaced by economic calculation (Ordóñez Valverde, 2017: 123-124).

    Regarding criminal organizations operating in territories marked by marginality, and limiting reflection to the development of micro-drug markets, there are several factors to be pointed out in terms of their empowerment. First of all there is the modality of control of the territory, which can have different expressions. There may be cases of control similar to that of gangs, such as that of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro (Misse and Grillo, 2014; Misse, 2015), even situations where this control is exercised only over different “points”: “fixed” like houses or sales centers; “Semifixes” such as certain corners, parks or other places in the community, and “mobiles” when the seller moves to the place suggested by the buyer (Zamudio Angles, 2013; Calderón Umaña and Salazar Sánchez, 2015). Second, the type of organization expresses different levels of empowerment. Andrade (1991) has pointed out, reflecting on the small traffickers with respect to the Ecuadorian case, that one cannot speak of "organizations", but of networks that he characterizes as "almost amorphous", not hierarchical, subordinate to intermediation, with no possibilities of expansion due to its low capitalization and vulnerable to police repression. In relation to the so-called “residence gangs” that operate in Bogotá and that dominate the drug market in the neighborhoods, Perea Restrepo and Rincón Morera (2014) highlight their nature and family history. And in the case of Rio de Janeiro, the local drug gangs tend to be structured like a pyramid, the vertex of which is represented by the "owner of the hill", who administers the "company" or delegates that administration to the "person in charge", for example if you are in prison; there are "managers" according to the type of drug and for territorial security, and the organization is complemented with "soldiers" and direct sellers of different types. In addition, since the 1990s, “commandos” or “factions” emerged that represent horizontal alliances between “nose owners” to delimit territories and to protect each other from incursions by other “factions” (Misse and Grillo, 2014; Misse 2015). Finally, power is also conditioned by the contradictory relationship between drug traffickers and police forces, which entails confrontation but also bribery and extortion. The latter implies the involvement of the latter in the political economy of crime, including all their activities: arms trafficking, car thefts, kidnappings, etc. (Souza Alves, 2008). We are dealing with what Bobea (2016) has called “state-tropism by immersion”.28

    This involvement of state agents in criminal activities incorporates into the analysis, precisely, another dimension of the marginal presence of the State, which complements the one already mentioned, characteristic of marginalized territorialities, and which makes them prone to become a space for action of criminal organizations. Thus, the State is present and not sporadically as is the case with specific operations. As indicated in the case of Rio de Janeiro, but which is applicable to other realities in the region,29 it is a presence sui generis, because it is not expressed as public power, because corrupt police officers use their state representation for private purposes. According to Misse (2015), this privatization of state power configures what he calls “political goods”, because, in order for them to acquire economic value, it is necessary to have a favorable correlation of forces in the territory in question and they involve an asymmetric and compulsive exchange. But the key to this phenomenon lies in the limited capacity of public institutions that makes these behaviors viable, which in turn reproduce this institutional limitation by privatizing public power (Míguez, Misse and Isla, 2015). In fact, the dominance of an irregular group in a certain territory automatically implies a marginal presence of the State (Cano, 2008).

    There is a common reflection on the different types of violence considered, especially the last two:30 Empowerment by violence generates perverse processes for a double reason. On the one hand, it is based on the existence of victims who are denied fundamental rights, including that of life. And, on the other hand, it does not usually entail a substantive transformation of the condition of social marginalization, except –in some cases– for a few. In other words, it is a response that breaks into the central sphere of society with a threatening character but does not pose substantive transformations of the prevailing order.

    Collective action with transformative possibilities

    This is the great difference with the last answer, the one based on collective action: it not only breaks in but also seeks social transformations. Three have been the selected examples: the Movement of the Landless (mst) in Brazil, neozapatismo in Mexico and the piqueteros of the late last century and early present in Argentina. These are three cases with different characteristics and belonging to three key countries in the region, which offer a sufficiently broad spectrum for reflection. For each of them, their most significant achievements in terms of empowerment are shown.

    The achievements made by the mst They are impressive. At the beginning of the second decade of this century, it was present in 24 of the 27 Brazilian states; it controlled more than seven million hectares with 550,000 families organized in settlements and camps, accounting for a population of more than two million people; it had organized more than a hundred cooperatives, almost two thousand associations, and almost a hundred agro-industries in the settlements; More than two thousand schools had been established in operation, with about 170,000 students, five thousand educators, in addition to the Cirandas Infantis, responsible for the care and education of children under six years of age (Stronzake and Casado, 2012: 4).

    These results are the reflection of two substantive processes. Thus, on the one hand, the settlements for their occupants have meant a way out of the exclusion imposed by society, especially in terms of employment, allowing them an alternative life (Navarro, 2002). Something that they would not have achieved by moving to the cities. In this sense and as a corollary, Medeiros (2006) goes further and points out that the settlements have allowed the recomposition of families, something that is the opposite of departure through migration. In fact, despite all the difficulties and dangers faced by the settlers, the camps and the occupations have not stopped. And, on the other hand, the settlements have contributed to the democratization of local life. As Carter and Carvalho (2010: 302) point out, in addition to the material improvement of living conditions, the settlements have led to the recovery of the self-esteem of rural workers and the expansion of citizen rights in rural areas.

    Regarding neo-Zapatismo, the first achievement refers to access to land. Since the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle in January 1994, when it launched the armed insurrection, the occupation of land was proposed as a response to peasant needs and as opposition to the policy of President Salinas de Gortari. In this sense, in the zones controlled by the Zapatistas, a new and strong impulse was given to the dynamics of peasantization that began with the agrarian reform (Van der Haar, 2005). But that impulse transcended the territory of Zapatista influence and thus, comparing the Ejido Censuses of 1991 and 2007, Chiapas appears as the state where more agrarian nuclei were created (752), which shows that the Zapatistas positioned the problem of agrarian distribution in that state (Núñez Rodríguez, Gómez Bonilla and Concheiro Bórquez, 2007: 45). On the basis of the categorical rejection of the reform of article 27 of the Constitution, which made possible the privatization of communal and communal lands, it is necessary to look for the meaning that the occupation of lands has for the indigenous: an act of replacement and historical justice that claims being part of a nation-state as peoples (Vergara-Camus, 2011).

    The great bet of neo-Zapatismo has been indigenous autonomy. It would be in terms of it that an attempt has been made to reverse the ethnic inferiorization by empowering the indigenous population. This was a demand that was not in the original proposals of the ezln. It was precisely as a result of this rupture of the Peace Dialogue in the Cathedral of San Cristóbal de las Casas that the Zapatistas suggested that it was from the “deep Mexico” that an alternative could be built (González Ruiz, 2013). The claim of an indigenous identity by neo-Zapatismo did not mean denying the Mexican one; In other words, there was not a strategy of national self-exclusion. Neither community withdrawal nor closed nationalism was raised and no demands were made in terms of the Mayan specificity identifying themselves as indigenous Mexicans claiming to be part of the nation (Le Bot, 1997; González Casanova, 2001; Ceceña, 2004; Cerda García, 2011) . It was about claiming the difference and its recognition so that it did not turn into inequality and an indigenous identity was respected. It is the right to be treated as equals, thus questioning state indigenism (González Casanova, 1995; Le Bot, 1997; De la Rosa, 2006).

    In this regard, the important thing to highlight is, as Martínez Espinoza (2007) points out, that both Snails such as the Good Government Boards (jbg), which express the institutional proposal for autonomy, have meant consolidating the dynamics of subsistence. And according to this author, this consolidation has emphasized four aspects: making the proposals of the San Andrés Accords effective, promoting the economic, political and cultural development of the communities, establishing democracy under the principle of “ordering by obeying” and strengthening the communities' resistance to daily and permanent harassment. In fact, according to Martínez Espinoza (2007), the criterion of Zapatista resistance is based on the rejection of government aid to avoid a new co-option. Accepting this type of help would mean giving up dignity (González Ruiz, 2013). Martínez Espinoza (2006: graph 4) has synthesized this process by pointing out that it responds to an unsatisfactory institutional reform on the part of the Mexican State and its permanent harassment of the Zapatista communities. The answer was to reorganize them, as well as redefine relationships with external actors. Five regions emerged that integrated the existing marez (Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities) and that four objectives were set: autonomy, development, participatory and deliberative democracy, and resistance. And the institutionalization of this process was, precisely, the creation of Snails and jbg.

    The achievements of the Argentine piquetero movement were both material and symbolic. The former are associated with the aid they received and which were the subject of negotiation to lift the roadblocks. They arose from the grassroots in the face of pressing needs but, at the same time, they repositioned people who stopped being passive recipients of state aid and became active subjects with their collective actions, earning the right to be a beneficiary (Svampa and Pereyra, 2009 ). The administrative inability of the central government to handle the aid and implement the corresponding programs made municipalities, ngoAnd also the piquetero organizations themselves, which were initially ignored, will play a key role in its realization (Cross and Freytes Frey, 2007). The control of these programs implied the empowerment of the picketer organizations and the organizational traditions served as support, although they were technically resignified (Manzano, 2004, 2008).

    Although these aid were crucial to guarantee daily survival in the context of deep crisis that characterized Argentina in those years, there were symbolic achievements of great relevance. In the first place, the invisibility that the unemployment situation inevitably entailed was overcome, because the roadblocks attracted media attention. But more importantly, they questioned the (neo) liberal interpretation of unemployment as an individual problem and turned it into a social issue that could not be ignored on the public agenda, and overcame that shadowy presence that (neo) liberalism had imposed on them (Cross and Freytes Frey, 2007; Abal Medina, 2011; Torre, 2016). Second, this visibility meant the transition from unemployment to collective social action, because the picketers obtained political powers (Fernández Álvarez and Manzano, 2007; Cross and Freytes Frey, 2007); Furthermore, it has been argued that by representing the picket a direct action an “insurgent identity” would have been formed (Retamozo, 2006: 160). In fact, they maintained political prominence because they recalled the pending debt of democracy: exclusion (Muñoz, 2005). And finally, dignity was recovered and the stigmatization implied by the category of unemployed was overcome (Svampa and Pereyra, 2004, 2009). In this sense, the piquetero movement raised the need to recover what it called “genuine work”, which it defined not only as true work but also as worthy work; in effect, the loss of employment was also perceived as a loss of dignity (Retamozo, 2007). And, in this last sense, a conception of life was proposed in a double sense: it was a means of reproduction, but it was also a form of differentiation from “others” (thieves, beggars, etc.). In other words, dignity constituted a central element of the picket identity (Fernández Álvarez and Manzano, 2007).

    Reflecting in more general terms on this fourth response, the conflict does not arise simply in terms of deficiencies, but of the causes that generate them: lack of access to key productive resources and, in the cases considered, specifically to land. In this sense, it goes beyond the field of social marginalization, and this type of response seeks to modify the asymmetry of the surplus inequality field, in this case the one referred to the hoarding of accumulation opportunities. That is, it tries to influence the causes and not only the effects and, when it is achieved, the situation of social marginalization can be overcome.

    Also in terms of reversing de-citizenship, their proposals are not limited to recovering citizenship but to deepening democracy with deliberative and participatory practices, beyond the periodic exercise of elections and the granting of representativeness. There are even answers that raise the issue of autonomy. This is a key issue because it implies that it is possible, from the world of social marginalization and in contrast to the rest of society, to configure new social relations of an alternative nature to that of the predominant ones. In other words, the recovery of utopia is being considered, and it would seem that, in the current historical moment, it would be from the margins of society that utopian proposals can emerge, but they face great challenges if they want to transcend the confined territorialities in which they germinate. .

    Finally, only this collective response has been expressly opposed to the invisibility of subordinates, claiming the dignity of the marginalized. Here we have one of the most radical responses to inferiorization and one of the most blunt proposals for recognition in the history of capitalism in the region.

    That is to say, of the four responses it is, without a doubt, the one that raises in the most radical way the overcoming of social marginalization because, precisely, it directly questions the causes that generate it. But its achievements are conditioned by the asymmetry of the conflict. Precisely because of its questioning nature of the prevailing order, it has to confront powerful actors who try to neutralize this type of social movements through isolation, repression or co-option.

    Brief reflections to close

    If the gaze is limited to redistribution, as postulated from positions related to (neo) liberalism, it is assumed that the conflict is centered on the surplus captured by the State, mainly through taxation, and the struggle is between beneficiaries (households and individuals) of social policies. In other words, inequalities are expressed in disparities within subordinate sectors. Policies to reduce “poverty” illustrate this well. Issues such as "targeting" (an adequate selection of beneficiaries) or "leakage" (benefits of such policies for those who do not belong) show the nature and scope of the conflict. In other words, we are facing a very limited politicization of the social. Emphasizing the fiscal, as is Piketty's proposal, radicalizes politicization, but not enough, because the struggle limits the confrontation between elites and the State. Both views are necessary to understand the inequalities and conflicts that they entail, but they are insufficient.

    Shifting our gaze towards basic markets, that is, towards distribution, implies that the struggle is over the conditions of generation and appropriation of the surplus and that it is a conflict between classes: between capital and labor (conditions of exploitation of the labor force ) and between different types of owners (conditions of hoarding of accumulation opportunities). However, the proposed approach does not limit the struggle to social classes. Individuals can influence, as long as there are individualization processes with solid supports from the subaltern sectors that can relativize class inequalities. It also counts whether or not there is the constitution of categorical pairs, because, in the first case, they can be coupled (through primary or secondary segregation or discrimination) to class dynamics, reinforcing them. In other words, the processes of individualization and processing of differences are also approached in terms of conflict.

    Finally, the responses by certain subaltern sectors considered in the preceding section are expressions of inequalities, because they are generated from social marginalization, although it is not their only cause. They are also expressions of politicization of the social not only in their manifestation of open conflict (violence and social movements), but also in their covert (migrations) and latent (religiosities) expressions.

    Consequently, the (neo) liberal order has re-politicized the social in a broad and profound way. In other words, there is a solid basis to question it as a natural and desirable order. For this, a radical look must be projected on inequalities.


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    EncartesVol. 6, No. 12, September 2023-February 2024, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434, and El Colegio de San Luis, A. C., Parque de Macul, No. 155, Fracc. Colinas del Parque, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Tel. (444) 811 01 01. Contact: Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: September 21, 2023.