Ideas, Ideology, and Citizenship of Social Movements

Anthony Petros Spanakos, Mishella Romo Rivas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Scholarship on social movements and citizenship assumes that democracy is improved and social movements successful when popular actors receive greater recognition from the state and their claims have more impact in politics. These literatures have focused primarily on the strategic action, tactics, and organizational capacity of movements; how governments and states have responded; and how institutional structures enable, foreclose, and/or respond to such political actions. The insights derived from these literatures can be improved by giving greater consideration to the role of ideas and ideology. This chapter examines four cases of left-wing social movements in Latin America that have resisted neoliberalism and aimed at thickening social citizenship and “democratizing democracy.” The typology introduced here identifies social movements in terms of two core elements of popular sovereignty: (1) the location of the primary space for political activity of the movements, and (2) how much transformation of the state and existing political apparatus is sought. Examining ideology and ideas about popular sovereignty highlights important nuances between movements that might otherwise be grouped together. While the social movements share left-wing roots and anti-neoliberal politics, and make demands for recognition of marginal groups as part of a process of a thick form of citizenship, they differ considerably on how and where they rule. Understanding these distinct positions helps explain different tactics and outcomes of social movements following the third wave of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Latin American Social Movements
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190870393
ISBN (Print)9780190870362
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Citizenship
  • Ideas
  • Ideology
  • Incorporation
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Social movements


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