Between Dependence and Autonomy : Popular Uses of the State in Contemporary Venezuela

By Federico Tarragoni

After two decades of neoliberal governance, Latin American states have turned to the model of a “popular civil society” through participatory devices, which seems to have generated new forms of citizenship in popular barrios and a “surveillance democracy.” Based on two ethnographic research projects (2007–2011) on Venezuelan Consejos comunales, this paper aims to show that these new popular relationships with the state are the result of two sociological variables : dependence and autonomy. Within a new typology of popular relationships with the state—refused dependence, victimizing, conflict, and accepted dependence—it shows the complexity of popular politicization produced by a “participatory state.”

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