by Claude Auroi
In the first paper of this session, Social exclusion, social cohesion : defining narratives for development in Latin America, Karem Sanchez de Roldan, (Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia) argued that during the last decade and a half an overview of the social scene in Latin America has been annually provided by Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). These documents, The Social Panorama of Latin America, provide information about 18 countries on the main social indicators, highlight relevant issues for social development and suggest topics for social agendas to governments and, nowadays, other significant social actors. Parallel to facts and figures these reports started including, little by little, less measurable topics that seem to be key factors for social and economic development: social exclusion/social inclusion and social cohesion. This presentation traces the appearance of these concepts in the reports berween 1999 and 2010 having as background the trends of common social indicators (poverty, income, employment, among others); elucidate the approaches and meanings given by ECLAC, and explore its links to economic development issues now in vogue all over the region.
Is it possible to tell the story of development narrative in Latin America differently? What would be the conditions for this new narrative to be told, listened and translated in actions in order to obtain different results? A strategy to obtain some answers to these questions is to look at the missing parts of the current narrative, its absence and silences. Here some of them.
First, development is strongly tied to an interpretation focused in economic performance and growth. This is coherent with a model in which market, state and society are functional to obtain positive economic results. Choices and policy making are determined by this vision. What is left out? In Latin America attention is devoted to income distribution to alleviate inequity. However, what do we know about income concentration and its conditions, and its actors? In Latin America nowadays social cohesion is regarded as a solution for existing crisis. However, what do we know about social fragmentation, its manifestation, its conditions and actors? These questions lead to look in different direction and to hear different voices.
It is not by means of the quantitative and statistics imperialism when analyzing household surveys, supposedly entailing objectivity, rigor and scientificity that new data is going to be obtained for shedding different light in Latin American social reality. It is not by generalizing conclusions, where is not possible to do so, that specific and local level cultural realities can be addressed in order to improve people‟s quality life. It is not by diagnosing and defining social agendas at technocratic and high top government levels that innovative alternatives can be designs for achieving well-being for all and every one. It is not by avoiding (analytically, conceptually, methodologically and pragmatically) the challenging heterogeneity of Latin America that a different narrative will emerge.
The discussion has focused on the appearance and disapperance of new indicators like cohesion, social capital, exclusion/inclusion, etc in UN statistical books and reports. It has been noticed that there is no transparency in this process, even if apparently the impulse comes in many cases from the WB, which draws on the work of social scientists and economists. There exists also a « fashion drive » which boosts some terms and abandons others ( see the differential evolution of « equity », à la mode only five years ago, and now replaced by « inegality ». Some terms are just always poorly represented, like « Concentration » of income, whereas « distribution » of income » appears more often.
It can be noticed in general that social indicators are heavily dependant on economic concepts and indicators. They must also be in a position to be quantified, and they are based mainly on household surveys. This study has been considered as very original by participants and enables further research in the field.
Second presenter: David Durkee, University of East London. Educating citizens, participation and democracy building : Educational reform in Chile and what might be learnd from France.
This paper has been written with Mélanie Reider who could not be present.
Although Chile has achieved great results in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction, the Chilean society remains highly unequal. Inequalities increased with the radical reforms undertaken during the Pinochet’s dictatorship. As democracy returned, the educational policies implemented in the 1990s have attempted to rectify this deficiency. In 2006 with ‘the march of the penguins,’ violent student protests showed the growing level of discontent with being ‘a nation of consumers, and not quite a nation of citizens.’ Increasingly, the social movements in Chile gain consciousness from their awareness as citizens of the world through media and the internet. The case is one of different social groups and political parties confronting local, nationaland supra-national entities, as Chile continues to face the challenge of reforming its educationalsystem in a transforming world.
This study utilises a comparative analysis to examine what Chile could learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the French educational system with special emphasis on the process of citizenship building, democratization and participation. The focus is on the contrast between the local and the national in light of ‘Mondialisation’. On one side, the French example provides cautions related to early streaming, option choice and social inequalities that inhibit the democratization process. On the other side, the use of grants inversely proportional to parents’ income, the reduction of financial barriers to higher education, the development of social mixing and of certain targeted affirmative actions, represent strengths of the French education system that could solve problems in the Chilean case and allow for increased participation.
However, the Chilean educational system is unique and embedded in a complex environment. This system remains strongly related to the labour market and the society in which it is operating. As a result, any educational reforms to decrease economic disparities will have to take into account labour market specificities and comprehensive social policy to support the successful implementation of reforms. To conclude, it remains important to analyse the wide range of specificities inherent to each political system without making claims for the universality of any one path.
The discussion has shown that the comparaison between Chile and France is hazardous, as the historical background of both countries is very different, almosm opposite since the Pinochet era. Chjile has a fundamental problem of fighting inequalities whereas France has mainly a state educational system open to everybody In Chile there are in fact three educational system an it would be piolitically very difficult to merge them. There is hope nevertleless that a democratic evolution will happen with the present student movement.
Third presenter: Hadrien Saiag, Université Paris-Dauphine. Money, debt and violence : some reflexions from the Argentinian « trueque ».
This presentation addresses the theoretical issues raised by the workings of two very different Argentinian local currency systems (also known as trueque) in Rosario and Poriajhú. The inter-workings of these monies (crédito) alongside the national currency (peso) are examined in terms of debt as a concept. Debt is central to the analysis because accountability and settlement can only exist in the context of a debt structure. Money indeed constitutes a social relation of itself. The nature of this can vary greatly, however.
In Rosario, there is a wide disparity in the extent to which participants are able to juggle between monies (profiting from the relative differences in the evaluation of goods in the two monetary spheres). This underscores the potential for violence in money as a social relation, forging social statuses on an unequal basis. In Poriajhú by contrast, far more harmonious monetary relations are fostered thanks to parity between the different accounting systems (peso and crédito). As a result, differences in status outside the trueque are not reproduced within it. The differences between these regimes are caused by the differing authority positions held by the two crédito systems. In Rosario the group is indebted to individuals because of its settlement issue modalities. There are few opportunities to develop a principle of command and trust, and no authoritative capacity to manage power struggles. This brings about the orchestration of the group by individuals. In contrast, in Poriajhú the crédito serves as a creditor, and can contribute to a perpetuation of authority. On such a basis, it can preserve its ethical foundation and maintain parity between accounting systems.
Even in Poriajhú however, the peso serves to establish unequal social status. Indeed, the trueque participants are almost never wage earners (i.e. they are not “salaried” and their main income does not come from a regular wage). And yet, due to the marginal position of wage earners in Rosario’s suburbs (due to neo-liberalist policies of the 1990s), they are doubly dominated by private credit monies’ money-ing regimes: their income depends on the spending of wage-earners, who in turn depend on the spending of the owner of the means of production (the capitalist). Indeed, only capitalists have access to credit for pursuing their productive activities. Part of their spending constitutes wages, which must then be spent by the wage earners in order to constitute the income of those who are neither wage earners not capitalists. Conditions of access to the means of settlement become all the more pressing a question. This configuration is not unique to Capitán Bermúdez: it can be considered that wage earners hold a marginal position inmany southern countries, where what Keith Hart (1973) describes as “informal income opportunities” prevail. In many cases, large income fluctuations (and the subsequent necessity to resort to indebtedness) result from unequal access to the means of settlement. Future research should address this question more deeply.
In the discussion it has been asked whether the trueque is a system of payment and saving for times of eocnomic crises, which it is not. It is a common social practice in poor areas.
It has been considred that it would be interesting to compare the Argentian true que to other equivalent systems like the tontine in Africa or the SEL in France.
Report by Claude AUROI
Institut des hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID).