June 1: Mariana Giusti "Building Representation: Social Networks and Party Building in the Andes"

May 04, 2022


Wednesday, June 1

3:30 - 5:00

Humanities 1, 210 


It is estimated that out of the 255 political parties that have formed and competed in national elections in Latin America since democratization, only 11 new parties have successfully consolidated. Why do so many parties embark on a process of construction but only a few of these come out successful? Although existing literature emphasizes the importance of organizational roots for party building success, we know very little about how parties grow through such organizations and what it is about these that facilitates or hinders party consolidation. This talk examines how the network structures of the social organizations that parties use to grow influence party building outcomes. I argue that three core properties of these organizations’ network structures—rootedness, reach, and resilience—constrain pathways to expansion and opportunities for successful consolidation. New political parties have to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of these network structures. They do so by altering how they mobilize support and establish linkages to the citizenry. I argue that while some network structures do enable the formation and consolidation of programmatic parties, this is an unlikely outcome; instead, most network structures will undermine party building efforts and either facilitate the emergence of leader-centric and/or clientelistic parties or, alternatively, drive these efforts to collapse. In this talk, I examine this argument through an analysis of three competing party-building efforts among indigenous movements in Bolivia. I explore why the MAS-IPSP party was the only one that succeeded at establishing itself as a national party despite all three new parties having strong roots in indigenous organizations. The project draws from interview data gathered over three years of fieldwork in Bolivia and Peru, as well as from an original newspaper-based dataset that traces organizational ties in the Bolivian context. I show that the MAS-IPSP party succeeded in establishing itself as the indigenous party largely as a result of the network structures within which it originated. The study sheds light on the complex ways in which social organizations can aid party building projects while also, frequently, contributing to their collapse. 



Mariana Giusti-Rodríguez is an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. She holds a PhD from Cornell University. Her research focuses on race and ethnic politics, political parties, and social movements, with a particular focus on Latin America.