Labour-Centred Development in Latin America: Two cases of alternative development

Adam Fishwick, Ben Selwyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ‘pink tide’ in Latin America is drawing increasing criticisms from the political left for its inability to confront existing socio-structural inequalities. This article contributes to these debates in two ways. First, as a means of understanding better the development strategies that have been followed by left-leaning governments, it highlights and critiques what it labels Elite Development Theory (EDT) encompassing Washington Consensus and Statist Political Economy. It shows how despite its self-stated objectives – the amelioration of the conditions of the poor and their uplifting – EDT is grounded in elite assumptions about social change: States and corporations are posited as prime-movers in the development process while collective efforts of labouring classes to pursue their own developmental strategies are ignored and/or de-legitimated. Exploitation, oppression and the ideological delegitimation of labouring class collective actions form the core of EDT. The second contribution of this article is to argue for an alternative form of what it terms Labour-Centred Development (LCD). This argument is supported through an examination of the Chilean cordones industriales and Argentinian empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores (ERT) movements. The article concludes that whilst LCD may be a rarity, its existence offers the basis for alternative development theory and strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-243
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Other keywords

  • Labour-Centred Development
  • Elite-development theory
  • Labouring classes
  • Argentina
  • Chile


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