International organizations and governmental institutions are increasingly interested in obtaining support from social movements and SSE organizations for new public policies and laws that encourage their engagement and participation from below, and facilitate their access to the new policy schemes. This underscores the growing importance of civil society actors (including social movements) in rethinking “development” and in devising and effecting development policy, particularly in the current period of global crisis.
This paper addresses another concern resulting from this disposition of international development policy with regards to social movements—namely, the process of translation of SSE practices into state policy. Translation here refers to the processes, mechanisms and dynamics through which the state incorporates into policy the cooperative and solidarity ethos of SSE practised by social movements. The problem that arises is that the state tends to fit SSE into the logic of power rather than enabling the transformative aspects of SSE to flourish.
Drawing on the example of three well-known Latin American movements—the Zapatista Movement in Mexico, the Unemployed Workers Movement in Argentina and Brazil’s Rural Landless Workers Movement—the paper examines the tension underpinning SSE practices and the state, and how the former can be subordinated to the logic of the state with significant implications for emancipatory politics and practice.
Ana Cecilia Dinerstein
is Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and a Member of the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.