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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


BENJAMIN HADIS, Associate Professor of Sociology, Montclair State College


THE TIME ELAPSED since the end of the Argentine military dictatorship in 1983 has strengthened sociology. The normalization of universities paralleled the reactivation of research centers and the acceptance of professional sociologists at all levels of public administration. We can thus anticipate the gathering of much data that will make for many empirical analyses in the years to come. The sociological literature on Argentina canvassed for this Handbook consists of much noteworthy scholarship on the military process of 1976-83 (items bi 91003202, bi 88001364, bi 88001163, and bi 90008120). Some of this scholarship is enriched by the adoption of a comparative perspective that examines Argentina's military experience in terms of other countries of the Southern Cone (items bi 90008121, bi 90008122, and bi 90008120) and even more distant nations such as Greece (item bi 91003204). The legitimation of violence by both the military and armed insurgent groups has also been the subject of sociological scrutiny (items bi 90008121, bi 88001163, bi 88001349, bi 88001364, and bi 88001351).

Two very important developments in the field have been the analysis of both the nature and the prospects of the transition to democracy. Among the former are significant contributions by Peralta Ramos (item bi 88001163), Cheresky (item bi 90008117), and Palomino (item bi 91003207). Important assessments of the viability of democracy are found in an article by Waisman (item bi 88001163) and in a very useful study by a non-sociologist, Daniel Poneman (item bi 91003208). Many of these works explore the phenomenon of corporatism in Argentina: Poneman reflects on corporatism as an obstacle to the reintroduction of democracy (item bi 91003208); Waisman examines how a mistaken fear of communism among sectors of the bourgeoisie in the late 1930s led to a consolidation of corporatism which triggered the "reversal development" begun in that decade (item bi 91003210); and Aftalión, Mora y Araujo, and Noguera blame corporatism for Argentina's authoritarian proclivities, its organizational inefficiency, and the national tendency to cut corners (item bi 88001355). Surprisingly, only one work by Espínola (item bi 91003196) deals with the Malvinas/Falkland War (For more on this conflict, see the International Relations: South America chapter of this Handbook.)

The process of democratization has stimulated a growing interest in social movements. Notable scholarship on this topic is found in Jelin's study of alliances among separate social movements (item bi 91003202) and in Cuenya et al.'s work on suburban settlement movement among the poor (item bi 88001371). Other worthwhile studies are Femenía's analysis of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (item bi 91003200), Iturraspe's account of workers' participation in management (item bi 88001347), and Benencia's qualitative data on peasant uprisings in Santiago del Estero province (item bi 88001985).

The decline of authoritarianism and the transition to democracy have opened up areas of research neglected in the recent past, such as ethnicity and racial/ethnic relations. Examples are Elkin's analysis of the impact of Argentine anti-Semitism on the structure of Jewish community organizations (item bi 91003193), Senkman's examination of an early official distinction between "immigrant" and "refugee," a racist category that served to justify discrimination against Jewish immigrants in the 1930s (item bi 90008191), and Senkman's compilation, edited from an interdisciplinary perspective, on anti-Semitism in Argentina (item bi 91003215). To this collection Waisman has contributed an impressive sociology-of-knowledge analysis of Argentine right-wing nationalist ideology as expressed in the magazine Cabildo (item bi 91003215). Two useful comparative works on European migration to the US and Argentina dealing with nativism and the corresponding pace of adaptation of immigrants in both countries have been published by Clementi (item bi 90008187) and Seefeld (item bi 90008190). Two other racial or ethnic groups examined in studies annotated below are Italians (item bi 91003094) and Argentine Indians (item bi 91003091).

There is a notable increase in the sociological literature on women, a field that promises to yield much scholarship in the future. However, only two entries have been canvassed for this biennium and are annotated below: Femenía's study of the mourning process among the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (item bi 91003200) and Cárdenas' engrossing examination of documents on female domestics in Buenos Aires since the 1890s, a rare contribution to the sociology of occupations (item bi 88001353).

Scholarship on Argentina's working class and trade union movement is a well-established field. Outstanding contributions to it are studies by Munck (item bi 91003206) and Mouzelis (item bi 91003204). Also helpful are studies by Thompson (item bi 90008119), and Palomino (item bi 91003207).

The study of peronism, a perennial topic in Argentine sociology, is well represented in this Handbook by the outstanding discourse analyses of Verón and Sigal (item bi 88001348) and by Mainwaring's helpful documentation of the industrialists' opposition to the first Perón Administration (item bi 91003203).

In addition to the latter contribution by Mainwaring, there are a number of studies that examine Argentine entrepreneurs as political actors. Villarreal, Palomino and Itzcovitz offer an interesting account of the roles of different sectors of the bourgeoisie during the military dictatorship of 1976-83 (item bi 91003211). Waisman presents a remarkable analysis of the role played by entrepreneurs in the economic stagnation and political instability that have plagued the nation for decades (item bi 91003210); in fact this work should also be noted as an excellent contribution to the theory of development. On the regional level, one should single out several worthwhile development studies: Rutledge (item bi 88001346) provides an excellent case study of the integration of Jujuy province into the national capitalist system and Benencia and Forni contribute an interesting analysis of the consequences of the introduction of water irrigation projects in Santiago del Estero province (item bi 91003092).

A traditional topic of sociological scholarship in Argentina has been migration. Worthy of mention among recent contributions is a superb compilation edited by Lattes and Oteiza (item bi 88001354) which examines the emigration and return of Argentines since the 1950s. One should also single out a very fine collection of papers on immigration presented in 1981 to the Jornadas Nacionales de Estudios sobre Inmigración en Argentina (item bi 88001358).

Another well-established area of research in Argentina is urban sociology. A representative and commendable study in this field is the already mentioned work by Cárdenas on domestic employees (item bi 88001353). Also worthwhile is a notable contribution by Cuenya et al. on suburban settlements (item bi 88001371), and Guber's interesting work on identity among shantytown dwellers (item bi 91003201).


Uruguayan sociology is still recovering from the blow it suffered within the university during the military dictatorship. Nevertheless, during this unfortunate period (1973-84), private funds supported several research centers which continued to pursue studies in the social sciences. Most publications canvassed for this Handbook continue to focus on themes such as the experience of dictatorship (items bi 91003241, and bi 88001350), and on the process of transition to democracy (items bi 91003212, bi 91003213, bi 91003217, bi 91003216, and bi 91003239). There are also important contributions on socioeconomic development by Astori (items bi 91003213), Barbato de Silva and Macadar (item bi 91003214), and Fortuna (item bi 88001344), all of which analyze the long-standing economic crisis and changing patterns in the Uruguayan economy. Also worth reading is an excellent analysis of youth-related public expenditures by Terra and Hopenhaym (item bi 88001365).

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