The Poor’s Struggle for Political Incorporation


‘The wave of anti-austerity protest that spread globally in response to exclusionary neoliberal policies in the 2010s had, in Latin American social movements, a major source of inspiration which calls for more scientific reflection. Theoretically original and empirically rich, this volume provides a most valuable contribution in this direction, bridging social movement studies and historical institutionalism, through a critical conceptualization of contentious politics as a relational phenomenon.’

Donatella della Porta, Centre of Social Movements Studies, Scuola Normale Superiore

‘Federico M. Rossi’s study of the unemployed workers’ movement in Argentina sheds new light on the patterns of social mobilization that lie behind the political reincorporation of popular sectors following neoliberal reform in Latin America. Rossi explains how historical patterns of class-based corporatist representation have given way to new kinds of social actors, more territorial forms of collective action, and new repertoires of contentious politics. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Argentina’s piqueteros and other grass-roots actors have reshaped state-society relations and constructed new forms of social citizenship that challenge market orthodoxy.’

Kenneth M. Roberts, Cornell University

‘The Poor People’s Struggle for Incorporation provides a refreshing new framework on how popular movements struggle within historical pendulums swaying between social exclusion and institutional access. Focusing on arguably one of the most potent social movements in contemporary Latin America, the unemployed workers’ movement, Rossi passionately demonstrates how economically marginalized groups negotiate the treacherous path toward inclusion through assertive and strategic interactions with the state, political parties, and ossifying corporatist structures. In short, The Poor People’s Struggle offers a fascinating new model on how to understand the complex terrain of social movement mobilizations in the age of free market driven globalization.’

Paul Almeida, University of California, Merced


‘Federico M. Rossi has written what is certainly the definitive, most thoroughly researched study of the piqueteros from their origins to the present. …it will stand unchallenged for some time as the essential point of reference for any study of the piqueteros and Argentine politics in general for these years.’

James Brennan, The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History

‘… the book establishes a much needed and very fruitful theoretical dialogue between historical institutionalism and social movement studies, one that addresses, on the one hand, the structuralist determinism of the former and, on the other, the limitations of actor centered approaches that understand social change as the direct outcome of actors’ intentions and strategies. … Rossi offers a nonlinear understanding of history that is crucial to understanding the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion and the emergence of new patterns of a state-society relationship that builds in former legacies and is also innovative.’

Renata Motta, Contemporary Sociology

‘The Poor’s Struggle for Political Incorporation is a landmark text for those studying social movements in Latin America. It revisits and updates Collier and Collier’s (1991) classic study of the incorporation of labour movements by the state and parties in the mid 20th century … Rossi argues that early 21st century Latin America witnessed a second wave of incorporation following the disincorporation of labour movements under neoliberal regimes. Of key interest to geographers is Rossi’s argument that this second wave was primarily territorially based, rather than a labour based process.’

Sam Halvorsen, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

‘… the volume argues for the need to consider not simply repertoires of contention, which privilege contentious collective action, but in general repertoires of strategies combined with the stock of legacies. This allows the researcher to decide in individual cases to what extent more contingent strategies, both contentious and institutional, were constrained by the longer history of how protest was done. This is an insightful contribution to Charles Tilly’s famous concept of the repertoire of contention, showing how a careful dialogue between northern and Latin American scholarship can make a significant contribution to both.’

Anna Krausova, Latin American Research Review

‘Rossi offers two main concepts to make sense of the movement’s trajectory: ‘stock of legacies’ and ‘repertoire of strategies.’ The former is understood as the sedimentation of experiences among activists, whose previous struggles shape the available strategies that their movements can deploy. The ‘repertoire of strategies’ is perhaps the book’s main contribution and the concept that social movement scholars might find more relevant and applicable to other settings. In a nutshell, this idea makes reference to the set of options that social movements employ to achieve their goals. The fruitfulness of the ‘repertoire of strategies’ is that it seeks to encompass not only contentious collective action, but also the non-contentious or collaborative relationships between social movements and governments…’

Pablo Lapegna, Social Movement Studies

‘Rossi’s book provides an excellent and detailed account of Argentina’s piquetero movement, and is recommended for any scholar or individual interested in Argentina’s recent political history. The work and analysis that went into sketching out each stage of the movement is extraordinary and interesting, and provides an example of a successful poor people’s movement … The consideration of the historical roots of strategies is appreciated and needed in social movement literature.’

Cynthia Williams, Mobilization: An International Quarterly

‘The main concepts used to construct this macro-historical narrative … makes a remarkable contribution to social movement studies by defining the notions of ‘repertoire of strategies’ and ‘stock of legacies’. Constructed around blind spots in Charles Tilly’s traditional notion of repertoire, these concepts are presented as crucial means by which to avoid a teleological perspective when looking at re-incorporation processes. … By emphasizing the process whereby social movements rely on the sedimentation of past struggles and their results, Rossi manages to dissipate the structuralist foundation of Tilly’s original concept.’

Tomás Gold, Journal of World-System Research

‘This important book makes an original contribution to answering the fundamental question of how we can understand the relationship between processes of mobilization and sociopolitical change. While the author studies this relationship in the context of Argentina, its lessons also apply to other Latin American countries.’

Juan Pablo Ferrero, Latin American Politics and Society

‘One of this book’s main values, therefore, is its refreshing elements of theoretical innovation, which appear to be widely applicable beyond a specific case study. The non-teleological or normative perspective on incorporation is an effective framework for analysing contemporary Latin American macropolitical shifts. At the same time, the concepts of the repertoire of strategies and stock of legacies offer concrete tools that scholars of contentious politics, even beyond Latin America, will find useful in their own work. Another merit of the book is that it refrains from reading the Argentine case through the often-abused lenses of exceptionalism, instead situating the Piquetero movement in the context of broader transformations and macroprocesses of sociopolitical change.’

Lorenza Fontana, International Sociology

‘… la hipótesis del libro es que la intensa lucha de las organizaciones sociales de algunos colectivos activistas de América Latina, todos ellos perdedores netos de largas décadas de políticas de ajuste neoliberal y desindustrialización, desembocó en la segunda ola de incorporación social de excluidos en la historia reciente de América Latina.’

Salvador Martí i Puig, América Latina Hoy

‘Another valuable theoretical intervention is Rossi’s distinction between horizontal and vertical opportunity structures. … Without dismissing the notion of political opportunity, Rossi notes that scholars of contention need to pay attention to divisions among elites at different levels in a polity. For instance, concerning horizontal opportunities, he focuses on elites who wield the same relative institutional power within a particular policy area. Vertical opportunities differ, even though the policy area may be the same, but division may exist between actors who occupy different positions within a state’s institutional hierarchy. … This theoretical innovation will help scholars who study contention, especially in federal systems.’

Anthony Pahnke, Perspectives on Politics

‘Rossi’s monograph is of considerable interest, providing a large body of information on political organization and social mobilization. Its conclusions parallel those of other researchers whose work is included in this issue of Latin American Perspectives, emphasizing how important political mobilization against neoliberal policies was in securing some limited but broad-based government services and income transfers to retirees, the unemployed, and low-income households.’

Ray Bromley, Latin American Perspectives

‘El análisis de Rossi muestra que el problema de la incorporación no enfoca de modo directo en los mecanismos de integración social. En ese sentido, no implica una respuesta directa a la pregunta por la constitución de una sociedad más igualitaria ni la ampliación de un Estado de bienestar; permite dar cuenta, más bien, de la reorganización de la arena política a partir de una redefinición y expansión de los actores legítimos.’

Sebastián Pereyra, Revista de la Sociedad Argentina de Análisis Político

‘Rossi proposes two central and novel concepts that help us to understand social movements as agents of change that act within institutional structures, of which their own trajectories of mobilisation are also part. The first concept is the repertoire of strategies, which includes not only the strategies of mobilisation outside the movement, but also those that help to construct the movement and keep people within it mobilised. The second is the stock of legacies, which includes all the practices the movement received from other social actors and previous political processes. These two concepts are very helpful in illustrating long term processes of social mobilisation and change.’

Carolina Cepeda Másmela, Journal of Latin American Studies

‘La obra de Federico Rossi muestra en profundidad el desarrollo y activación del movimiento piquetero en Argentina y cómo su impacto supuso un proceso de incorporación de un sector social antes excluido en el régimen político argentino, y lo compara con otras movilizaciones acontecidas en otros países de la región.’

Salvador Martí i Puig, Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals

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