THE POLITICAL WORK IN LATIN AMERICA: ACTORS, RESOURCES, AND TRAJECTORIES
Coordination: Edison Hurtado, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO Ecuador; Martín Paladino, Instituto Mora, México; y Gabriel Vommaro, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina.
Papers submission period: from January 16th until April 24th, 2017
Publication date: January 2018
Papers reception: Through the online platform of Íconos, journal of FLACSO Ecuador, www.revistaiconos.ec
Like all practices, "doing politics" requires specific competencies and skills and involves the mobilization of resources and repertoires, as well as the creation and use of scenarios. As Max Weber said, there are those who live "from" politics or "for" politics, but in all cases, it is a field of practices situated in particular social and institutional contexts. Such practices are supported on schemes of action and on social configurations that are susceptible of being investigated comparatively in their similarities and differences. "Working in politics" is not only a matter of "vocation", it also involves strategies, interests, and ideologies in permanent recreation and dispute. What is happening with the ways of doing politics in Latin America? How do the new and old actors operate? What resources do they mobilize? What skills and abilities are at stake?
This dossier intends to study "politics as a practical activity", routinely and daily practiced, sometimes intensified in times of conflict or elections and in connection with networks and institutions. In particular, it seeks to systematize the most recent advances in the knowledge about "political work" based on the analysis of a) the practices of the different actors involved in this activity; b) the resources, skills and competencies that are used; and, c) political careers and trajectories.
A first analytical focus is placed on the practices of political actors in partisan, organizational and militant contexts. In the last decades, the region was the scenario of the traditional political forces crisis and the emergence of new ones, both to the left and to the right of the political spectrum, which implies that the political parties stop being central protagonists in this competition. New and old organizations share, to a great extent, an important porosity with other social worlds, from which they take up skills and repertoires while recruiting in them leading political cadres and militants. How are political practices being shaped in these scenarios?
Secondly, the dossier points towards the study of "the resources and skills" that are put at stake when it comes to operating in politics. What competencies are valued in the political field? What skills and knowledge provide - in different organizations and historical moments - the possibility of political "success"? A non-exhaustive list includes resources such as: material (budgets, assets used in campaigns, use of technological material); symbolic (colors, symbology, prestige, moral recognition); discursive ("knowing how to speak", "being good in the media"); social (personal ties, clientelistic networks); and aesthetics (affinities, tastes, performances). To know the source of these resources, as well as the way in which they are mobilized in different Latin American realities, allows to grasp a fundamental dimension of the political activity.
Finally, another approach in this dossier is "the trajectories and scales of the political action", considering that the political career has stages both formalized in some contexts and open in others. We are interested in accounting for the trajectories of the actors not only as a process of accumulation of skills and capital while moving from one position to another, but also as a way of articulating different scales of politics (between local and national levels, or between neighborhood, sectoral or community areas). How are political careers organized in this game of scales? Which profiles manage to cross between different spheres of influence and power? What mechanisms influence this transit?
Taking everything into consideration, it is of interest for this dossier the empirical studies that are focused on the following topics:
• Political practices of actors in partisan, organizational and militant environments.
• The skills, capital and abilities required to operate politically.
• The resources of/for the political action (material, symbolic, discursive, social, aesthetic and thematic).
• Political trajectories and articulation of scales.
• The careers and strategies of politicians and public officials: the daily political activity from (and to get) elective and non-elective positions.
Spanish, English and Portuguese contributions will be accepted, however selected papers will be published in Spanish. The Journal will clarify doubts or will contribute on the profile of proposals until the beginning of the submission period.
The articles submitted must conform to the editorial policies and the publication norms of the journal (available at www.revistaiconos.ec). A peer review evaluation system is used to select the publishing articles.