Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 308–327 | Cite as

Social Movements and Social Policy: the Bolivian Renta Dignidad

  • Santiago Anria
  • Sara NiedzwieckiEmail author


The impact of popular mobilization and social movements against the advance of neoliberal policies has been well documented and theorized. Their concrete impact on the process of social policy reform in the post-neoliberal era is still under debate, however. This article theorizes about the conditions linking disparate new movements to each other and to old, class-based social movements in the defense of a concrete policy reform, Bolivia’s non-contributory pension, the Renta Dignidad. Using a case study research design built on content analysis of newspaper coverage, we identify the necessary, though not sufficient, conditions facilitating alignment of interests and coordinated mobilization—a context of adversity (as confronting a highly mobilized opposition) and the universalistic characteristics of the policy. Under those conditions, social movements allied with Bolivia’s governing Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) were critical in the passage of Renta Dignidad by counterbalancing the pressure from a highly mobilized opposition backed by strong economic elites.


Social policy Social movements Latin America Bolivia 



We would like to especially thank Evelyne Huber for her constant guidance and very helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. John D. Stephens, Camila Arza, and the editors and two anonymous reviewers of SCID also provided excellent feedback. María Florencia Bergez compiled the newspaper articles used in this paper.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Inter-American Policy and ResearchTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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