Contemporary Argentina is the result of two contradictory processes: the consolidation of the democratic regime and the increase in social inequality. Both phenomena are, in their own way, completely new. Never before had the political system experienced such an enduring period of democratic institutional order, nor had the social structure ever had such a strongly exclusive dynamics. The combination of these two tendencies has produced a complex situation in which the deepening of the social fracture coexists with the delegitimization of the institutions meant to confront it. The contradictions between the institutionalization of the democratic regime and social reality grew constantly until the outbreak of the political, economic and social crisis of 2001, a turning point in the shaping of the political matrix that emerged from the restoration of democracy. The State then lost much of its ability to intervene in social conflicts while political parties fragmented and, simultaneously, their role as representatives of society vanished. The reconstruction of the interventionist ability of the political system started in 2003 with the implementation of highly progressive policies in terms of social inclusion. Despite their flaws and contradictions, the continuity of both an economic policy- oriented to enlarge and improve the labor market-and also of a social development policy that favored the extension of state protection to socially vulnerable groups (the children, the unemployed, the old, etc.) through social inclusion- has succeeded in reverting the tendency provoked by the implementation of harder and harder measures of structural regulation and of State Reformation during the period 1983-2001. The overcoming of the crisis opened new possible horizons: the State recovery, the revival of public affairs, the repositioning of politics, the interaction with new actors and an economic matrix that includes social integration. This New Argentina appears as a paradigmatic example of the main processes affecting the whole Latin American region, i.e., the transition to democracy, the consolidation of a strong presidential system, structural adjustment and the Reformation of the State, the “lost half-decade” and the subsequent socio-economic and state recovery within “a turn to the left”. Besides, the instability of the Argentine political system, the influence of social movements, the survival of Peronism as the main political current and the constant difficulty to generate longterm government policies make Argentina a particular study-case, unique among the other countries of the region. A journey through the social, political and economic transformations of Argentina in the past 30 years will give an insight into the main dynamics of the region as well as an understanding of one of the most interesting cases of construction, crisis and reconstruction of a democratic political community.
“Perspectiva Sur” is the study center of the civil association “Generación Política Sur”, integrated by young researchers in social sciences and economy who strive to broaden the scope of democratic principles so that they reach all areas of society. Among its main objectives, “Perspectiva Sur” seeks to promote and spread knowledge in order to implement actions to diminish inequalities, to extend the effective practice of rights and to strengthen social integration. By focusing on topics that approach fundamental challenges for the extension of democracy and social justice, “Perspectiva Sur” produces theoretical and empirical knowledge in a constant dialogue with the actors involved. From social and economic research, we work on the development of instruments that will help extend democracy to all the spheres of Argentine economic, social and political life. As part of its contribution to the spreading of knowledge, the “Center of Studies Perspectiva Sur” (CEPS, in Spanish) offers educational services to foreign university students. Its aim is to provide them with the necessary elements to understand the main dynamics of contemporary Argentine democracy, thus complementing the learning process initiated in the participants’ home countries. In addition, “Perspectiva Sur” seeks to break up with hegemonic logicaccording to which knowledge flows out from the center to the periphery- by prizing local research experiences and public policies. Through its educational services, the CEPS transmits an integrated viewpoint that joins the perspectives of the best academics in each field with those of the actors involved. The idea is to facilitate the direct interaction of the foreign students with the political and social reality of contemporary Argentina and to put the best analytical and interpretative tools as well as the expertise of the team of young researchers at their disposal.
Northwestern University students during their study trip.
1. General Description The educational services offered by the CEPS propose an integrative perspective of the processes studied and include various combinations of the following activities: Classes dictated by well-known academics. Interviews with policymakers and political, social, union and business leaders. Field visits. Participant observation.
In all the cases, extra-reading material will be provided to the students. This will consist of academic bibliography, journalistic articles, original texts and statistical series. Traveling, meals and accommodation expenses are some of the services offered to foreign students. 6
Study trips Goal: design of tailor-made agendas for grade or postgrade academic groups who would like to visit Argentina to carry out advanced studies in a given specialty area. Activities: seminars with experts in a research subject; participation in meetings with members of the government or civil society; provision of bibliography and field visits.
Study trips: intended for grade or postgrade students, whether accompanied by their teachers or not. Willing participants can request the full organization of the trip, including accommodation, meals and transportation. A daily eighthour dedication to studies and a minimum of ten students are required.
BUENOS AIRES METROPOLITAN AREA
Goal: academic education and a better understanding of current issues of Argentine reality.
Modality: workshops designed for foreign university students staying in Buenos Aires, devised to provide them with a first approach to the selected topics.
Modality: workshops for foreign university students on Exchange Programs in Buenos Aires. Activities: four theoretical classes, a seminar with members of the government or civil society, and a field visit.
The specialization workshops are meant for groups of grade or postgrade university students on Exchange Programs in Argentina. Twenty hours will be allotted to this activity, distributed according to the studentsâ€™ availability. A minimum of five participants is required.
Activities: seminars including talks and debates, with a forty-five minute presentation of the topic, followed by a discussion among the participants. Their aim is the creation of a friendly, informative atmosphere. Bibliography will be previously handed out to the participants to facilitate discussion. Two hours will be allotted to each selected topic.
The seminars are addressed to grade or postgrade university students staying in Argentina, who would like to get acquainted with any of the topics within the areas in the following pages. 7
Thematic Areas Public Security
Housing and mobility
In Argentina, as well as in other countries of the region, the increasing fragmentation and social marginalization, result of neo-liberal policies, were simultaneous to the spreading of social violence and the increase both of crime and its complexity. As a consequence, insecurity has been regarded by citizens as one of the most relevant issues of the last few years.
The transition to democracy and the decentralization of state functions in Latin America have produced a strong transformation of the bond between the citizens and their political representatives. Among other consequences, this phenomenon has provoked significant changes in the relation between the partisan apparatus and popular sectors, its most prominent aspect being the intensification of the patronage system, conceived as the barter of private goods for electoral support.
In Argentina, the combination of migratory movements linked to industrialization within an incomplete social and economic integration produced a persistent precariousness in the access of the least favored sectors of the population to urban housing. With the passing of time, this situation has become one of the main challenges at the moment of building a democracy based on social and territorial integration.
In turn, state measures have been inefficient and marked by a constant: political mismanagement of public security and the resulting neglect of the citizensâ€™ fundamental rights. The inability of the state to face those problems has become fertile soil for the legitimating of repressive and policed measures whose effects on security have not only been almost insignificant but, on the contrary, have also had serious consequences on the citizensâ€™ rights. Through meetings with academics, members of the government and political activists, and focusing on the Metropolitan Region of Buenos Aires, this program pursues an understanding of how social issues relate to the new forms of violence and insecurity; of which have been the results of state policies in terms of prevention; of the relation between politics and the police, and of which strategies have been favorable to a democratic conception of public security.
The Argentinean experience turns emblematic by virtue of the serious effects the transformation of its socio-economic matrix has had on the political system in general and the political parties in particular. In the light of the fall of popular sectors into labor informality and unemployment, the parties have redefined their foundations in a wide structure of territorial networks developed in the boroughs. This programâ€™s goal is to analyze the behavior of territorial party structures and their consequences on the democratic dynamics. Special emphasis will be laid on their effects on electoral competition, the participation of citizens and the implementation of public policies.
The Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires represents one of the most paradigmatic cases of reproduction of informal housing. Hundreds of thousands of people live in inadequate housing conditions there. This, in turn, limits the symbolic and material access to a set of basic rights such as education, health, culture and employment. This program aims at the comprehension of the problem of informal housing by placing special emphasis on the difficulties it generates for the full exercise of social rights. By means of meetings with politicians and academics, in addition to field visits, the causes and consequences of the proliferation of informal settlements in the suburban areas of Buenos Aires will be analyzed along with the public policies oriented to their treatment and the political strategies applied by local politicians to overcome accessibility deficits to the main public services and goods.
Introduction to Argentine politics
During the 90s, Argentina underwent the deep implementation of neo-liberal policies of structural adjustment and reformation of the state. Though leading to the fast achievement of economic stability, these policies produced a severe increase in poverty and social inequality as a result of their effects on the production matrix and on the system of state social protection.
The 200 years of Argentine history have been marked by the Independence War, the building of the National State, the extension of vote and the cyclical alternation of military and constitutional governments. The longest democratic period in the country began in 1983, characterized by intense transformations. On the one hand, there has been a simultaneous consolidation of civil and political rights. On the other, the fragmentation and representativeness crisis of the political parties have become evident. The characteristics of the political, economic and social history of the country as well as of the current state of affairs can only be understood through the analysis of certain peculiarities of the Argentine case. In particular, it is necessary to consider the dynamics of the main political party, Peronism, capable of fostering deep socio-economic changes and of continuously adapting to the emergence of new challenges. At the same time, it is necessary to understand the effects of the constant recurrence of political, social and economic crises on the government actions and electoral competitions.
By the end of the decade, economic recession revealed the significance of the process of social disaffiliation triggered by neo-liberal reformations. In December 2001, social uproar put an end to the implementation of adjustment programs and opened the way to a new era characterized by the reconstruction of the state intervention in the market and society. This program seeks to analyze, ten years after that collapse, the main features of post-neo-liberalism. A complex combination of heterodox economic policies, the extended state intervention, the increase of social protection and the continuity of many politicians â€œbornâ€? in the previous decade, post-neo-liberalism appears as one of the most fascinating political processes in Latin America.
Buenos Aires METROPOLITAN AREA
The proposals hereby presented focus on the problem of the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, the most popular and complex of Argentina.
BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE
This program intends to provide the tools for the comprehension of the main phenomena in Argentine history and their interrelation with the contemporary political, social and economic processes. Special attention will be given to 20th century Argentine history, to the distinguishing features of the main political parties-Radicalism and Peronism- and to recent socioeconomic transformations.
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