Argentine workers: Peronism and contemporary class consciousness

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University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992 - Business & Economics - 313 pages
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This provocative study, based on intensive interviews that include questions not always asked by political scientists, offers a revisionist interpretation of the Marxist conception of class consciousness. Avoiding the conventional picture of workers either as helpless victims of society or revolutionary actors-in-waiting, Peter Ranis seeks to redress such approaches with empirical insights into the day-to-day experience of actual people living on wages and salaries. He shows workers beyond the factory walls and office windows: as citizens, parents, consumers, and homeowners. In the context of workers' private lives, their larger political opinions are better understood and interpreted. Argentine Workers provides an insightful analysis of the complex combination of values and attitudes exhibited by workers in a heavily unionized, industrially developing country. These textured views are depicted against the backdrop of traditional Peronist ideology as it is challenged by competing democratic and libertarian views of society. Since the fall of the military junta of 1976-1983, Peronism has reemerged as a majoritarian political party, though with a changed outlook. Ranis's study carefully delineates the attitudes of an Argentine working class in flux. Using a recent survey representing seven major blue-collar and white-collar unions from both the private and public sector, Ranis describes in specific terms what Argentine workers think and say about their unions, their employers, private and foreign enterprise, the economy, the state, privatization, landowners, politics, the military, the Montonero guerrillas, the "dirty war" and the "disappeared," the church, popular culture and leisure pursuits, and their personal lives and ambitions for themselves and their children. His often surprising findings are presented in 56 tables. Ranis's controversial conclusion is that working-class militancy and antiregime activities are distinct from revolutionary politics. The impact of Peronism among rank-and-file workers has been to make them at once social-democratic, liberal, and conservative, while they uphold labor solidarity and union participation in politics. Ranis places his observations in a useful context of working-class political culture that will have implications for theories of class and democracy. He theorizes about working-class lives in ways that will make engrossing reading for Marxist scholars, labor historians, sociologists of work, and Latin Americanists interested in popular culture.

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Putting Workers in Perspective
The Historical Connection
The Contexts and Conditions of Labor Under Alfonsin

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About the author (1992)

Peter Ranis is professor emeritus of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.