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Volume 51 / Social Sciences

SOCIOLOGY: COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA


WILLIAM L. CANAK, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Loyola University

IN THE PAST TWO YEARS Colombian social scientists, along with Colombian legislators, judges, journalists, and much of the population, have lived and worked in a social and political environment of violence, intimidation, and fear linked to the drug economy. Assassinations and bombings, firings and resignations from academic posts have shown the vulnerability of intellectuals. When one meets old friends and acquaintances from Colombian universities and research institutes, their faces reveal the tension and despair they feel.

It is, therefore, remarkable that Colombian sociologists continue to produce a wide range of excellent theoretical and empirical research. Historical studies of agrarian social relations combine ethnography, social history, and political economy to provide rich portraits of regional development and grass roots organizations (items bi 91003606 and bi 91002128). Colombians' traditional interest in understanding social movements remains strong, but extends beyond reflections on La Violencia, to the exploration of current and diverse constituencies such as those which are developing among women, agricultural workers, urban and civic groups (items bi 91003634, bi 91003636, bi 91003599, bi 91003603 and bi 91003608). Social demographic studies (items bi 91003602 and bi 91003607) combine survey and census data to investigate social problems such as infant mortality and rural social structure, while women's studies (items bi 91003605, and bi 91003632), an area in which Colombian and Colombianist sociologists have been at the forefront of Latin American research, remain vital. Investigations of race and ethnic relations (items bi 91003638, bi 91003601 and bi 91003614), criminology (item bi 91003631), and, finally State policy and politics (items bi 91003610, bi 91003600, bi 91003612 and bi 91003615) attest to the vitality and resiliency of Colombian sociology in difficult times.

Given Venezuela's now chronic problems of debt and capital flight, and related government austerity programs and popular protests, it is not surprising that recent research reveals an increasing concern with social movements (items bi 91003655 and bi 91003650) and political economy (items bi 91003643, bi 91003642, bi 91003640 and bi 91003984). Likewise with urban and rural studies which are also examined from the point of view of political economy (items bi 91003641, bi 88002591 and bi 91003647). As in past years, Venezuela's approach to studies of religion, social psychology, and social values (items bi 91003648, bi 91003646, bi 91003659, and bi 91003656) distinguish it from sociological research in many other Latin American countries. Although formal demographic studies have long been common in Venezuela, recent works on social demography (items bi 91003639, and bi 91003645) are more promising in their new attempt to link demographic analysis with institutional structures that define social problems such as maternal mortality and migrants and refugees.

I am indebted to Danilo Levi of Tulane University for his assistance in the preparation of this biennium's contribution.


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