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Volume 59 / Social Sciences

SOCIOLOGY: COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA


WILLIAM L. CANAK, Professor of Sociology, Middle Tennessee State University


COLUMBIA

ONE MIGHT BE ASTONISHED TO FIND that Colombian sociologists manage to survive. They do much more; working in desperate and threatening conditions, they produce an impressive stream of relevant and sophisticated empirical research. Not surprisingly, while violence itself occupies a central place in recent research, themes of violence and Colombia's drug economy and its consequences course through studies of demography, family, gender, criminology, community and regional development, and stratification. Analysis of the drug economy has set reference benchmarks for other research (item #bi 98013257#), including assessments of family structure and strategies (items #bi 97014983# and #bi 97003823#) and the impact of violence on children (item #bi 97008861#).

Recent studies of Colombia's distinctive regional and racial development patterns extend an empirical focus that is now more than a decade old (items #bi 98005660#, #bi 98013318#, #bi 98006192#, #bi 00000598#, and #bi 00000566#). Since the 1980s, Colombian contributions to gender and sexuality research have gained international influence. The National University's program on Gender, Women & Development has provided continuity and institutional support (item #bi 00000582#). Recent studies of female peasant migrants (item #bi 00003700#), perceptions of rights (item #bi 00005974#) and public places identified as homosexual areas (item #bi 98010800#) demonstrate the rich and varied empirical focus of this research tradition. Empirical studies of religion have begun to trace themes comparing Protestant and Catholic institutions, similar to research elsewhere in Latin America (items #bi 97006868# and #bi 98002854#). Notable by its absence, we see a significant decline in traditional rural sociological research, for years a hallmark of Colombian sociology.

VENEZUELA

Venezuelan sociology traditionally expresses conventional research themes and methods very similar to those in the US. Given Venezuela's economic and political disruptions, however, it is not surprising to find sociologists actively mining political sociology through research on military coups (item #bi 00002153#), policy analysis and impact assessments (items #bi 97007645#, #bi 97011856#, #bi 98004233#, #bi 97015699#, #bi 00001949#, and #bi 97007648#), and political protest (item #bi 00003355#). A demographic profile of Venezuela's sexual health (item #bi 98015793#) and analysis of reproductive behaviors (item #bi 97010840#) continue a well-established tradition of using aggregate databases to produce policy relevant reports.

Venezuelan sociology's traditional interest in popular culture and community studies remains strong (items #bi 00000583# and #bi 97013998#). Rural sociology research on sharecropping (item #bi 98005055#) and family farming (item #bi 98013354#) explores themes often found in US rural sociology, reflecting the training of many Venezuelan sociologists. Organizational research on managers' perceptions (item #bi 00000593#) and small technology and media firms (item #bi 98012256#) likewise reflects mainstream research in the US, but much understudied questions in Latin America. Recent studies of poverty (item #bi 98004231#) and its impact on protest and social protests (items #bi 00003355# and #bi 00003354#) demonstrate the continued interest in social problems research. Finally, confirming the wide-ranging interest in the study of women is a compendium of congress papers treating topics from violence and power relations to women's health (item #bi 00000555#).


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