May 4: Juan Bogliaccini "Empowering Labor? Left Distributive Strategies in Unequal Democracies"

February 09, 2022


May 4

3:30 - 5:00 PM

In person: Humanities 1, 210

Or online: contact for Zoom link and password.


Distributive conflicts are remarkably common in modern democracies. From Uruguay to Bolivia, from the United States to Sweden, as conflicts increase, they help to shape the policies that govern markets, the extent of workers’ and unions’ rights, and even wage differentials between low-skilled workers and top executives. Why? This talk explores the underlying political dynamics of strategies pursued by leftist parties in power and the changing linkages between those parties and labor in developing democracies. It identifies the conditions under which leftist governments’ distributive strategies include wage policy by analyzing the experiences of three small countries in the Southern Cone of Latin America and Southern Europe –Chile, Portugal, and Uruguay. The key insight is that the unity of the Left and labor's political legitimacy are the main drivers for advancing distributive strategies that promote the inclusion of organized labor in wage settings at the national or industry level. Unity of the Left and the political legitimacy of labor in turn are shaped by elite long-term strategies towards labor. Strategies that were in place early on created not only path dependency but shaped differential opportunities for further options down the road. The project is an effort to (1) integrate large-scale historical processes with frequently analyzed short-term and agency-based factors to elucidate variation in the crafting of distributive strategies, and (2) reshape the debate on the politics of distribution in democracies outside the developed world by placing the cases in a longer historical arc.


Juan A. Bogliaccini is Professor of Political Science at the Social Sciences Department, Universidad Católica del Uruguay (UCU); and Director of the Winter Methods School at UCU. He holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the political economy of distribution and inequality. He is a co-editor of the Series of Latin American Political Economy at Palgrave.