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Volume 61 / Social Sciences

SOCIOLOGY: CHILE


W.L. GOLDFRANK, Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz


THE MOST NOTABLE RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS to Chilean sociology are those focused on gender issues. Following the latest developments in the wealthier countries of the North, studies of men and masculinity (items #bi2002004149#, #bi2002004248#, and #bi2002004138#) are beginning to take their place alongside continued interest in the progress of women toward equality (items #bi2003000041#, #bi2002004278#, #bi2002004212#, #bi2002004240#, #bi2002004266#). The research groups organized by Professor Teresa Valdés at the FLACSO-Chile have been essential to this development.

A second new topic for research and publication derives from the growing disquiet among intellectuals about the effects of consumerist individualism on the national culture and on the political system, which has seen declining rates of electoral participation and citizen involvement (items #bi2003000040# and #bi2002004133#). This subject will continue to receive scholarly attention, as it has already sparked a great amount of often agonized debate.

A third topic worth noting is indigenous peoples, although studies of indigenous peoples have typically been the province of anthropologists and are now also being produced by environmental scholars. Here again Chilean social science mirrors, albeit with a small time lag, developments in the North, where many of the currently influential Chilean scholars necessarily spent a considerable period during the dictatorship.

Research funds from US foundations played an essential role in the development of two of the most sophisticated recent projects, resulting in items #bi2003000041# and #bi2002004133#. Other research results tend to come from studies with very small samples (e.g., items #bi2002004278#, #bi2002004236#, #bi2002004149#, and #bi2002004266#). It is unclear whether this pattern represents a new form of long-term dependence as well as recognition by leading US-based supporters of social research that Chileans have become world-class practitioners. But questions may legitimately be raised about the solidity of financial support for independent research, since such research is unlikely to be useful to actors with economic power and resources.


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