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Contested spaces: the communal councils and participatory democracy in Chavez's Venezuela

Wilde, Matt (2017) Contested spaces: the communal councils and participatory democracy in Chavez's Venezuela. Latin American Perspectives, 44 (1). pp. 140-158. ISSN 0094-582X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0094582X16658257


Since their launch in 2006, the communal councils (CCs) have been heralded as a significant step towards the establishment of a radical, participatory democracy in Venezuela. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in a working-class barrio in Valencia, Venezuela’s third largest city, this article analyses the impact of the CCs on everyday political practice among local residents. It shows how different actors perceive and make use of the CCs in a variety of ways. Older women in particular have become central players in community life as a result of the reforms, although the burdens they take on arguably reproduce elements of gendered inequality. The article also demonstrates how some residents express suspicions of new community leaders, detailing the disputes that emerge over accusations of corruption and conflicting views of participatory democracy. I argue that the CCs should be understood as “contested spaces”, and suggest that the ambiguities and conflicts within them reflect broader tensions within the Bolivarian project as a whole.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 19 May 2015 16:36
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 22:33

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