The rebirth of politics in Bolivia: The role of popular resistance to business

Crawford Spence, Mark Shenkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The aim of this paper is to consider the role of mass mobilisations against international business in Bolivia and analyse their wider implications for the structure of the state, relating this to recent studies looking at the scope of resistance to international business. Design/methodology/approach – The analysis draws from a series of formal interviews with key political actors in Bolivia which were part of a wider ethnographic study exploring the emergence of the new hegemonic bloc in the country. The narrative is framed using the discourse theory of Laclau, and the methodology inspired by Bourdieu's understanding of social ethnography. Findings – The paper finds that the uprisings against international business in Cochabamba in 2000 and El Alto in 2003 were pivotal in developing a wider critical consciousness to oppose neoliberalism in Bolivia. Subsequently, these social movements constructed a new identity as the “people” and implemented a more radical form of democracy. Research limitations/implications – The time period studied is such that it was impossible to assess whether or not this counter-hegemonic movement has established a hegemonic bloc that has the potential to filter out into international resistance movements against business. Practical implications – The paper offers a range of insights that may be useful to social movements concerned with constructing national and international struggles against capitalism and/or neoliberalism. Originality/value – As far as is known, this is one of the first papers to outline how civil society resistance to international business can lead to wholesale shifts in the balance of power within a nation state and the construction of a substantively new political order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-366
Number of pages23
JournalCritical perspectives on international business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 24 2008


  • Bolivia
  • International business
  • Politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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