Pedraza, Silvia and Carlos A. Romero. 2022. Revolutions in Cuba and Venezuela: One Hope, Two Realities. University Press of Florida. Revolutions in Cuba and Venezuela compares the sociopolitical processes behind two major revolutions—Cuba in 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power, and Venezuela in 1999, when Hugo Chávez won the presidential election. With special attention to the Cuba-Venezuela alliance, particularly in regards to foreign policy and the trade of doctors for oil, Silvia Pedraza and Carlos Romero show that the geopolitical theater where these events played out determined the dynamics and reach of the revolutions. Updating and enriching the current understanding of the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions, this study is unique in its focus on the massive exodus they generated. Pedraza and Romero argue that this factor is crucial for comprehending a revolution’s capacity to succeed or fail. By externalizing dissent, refugees helped to consolidate the revolutions, but as the diasporas became significant political actors and the lifelines of each economy, they eventually served to undermine the social movements. Using comparative historical analysis and data collected through fieldwork in Cuba and Venezuela as well as from immigrant communities in the U.S., Pedraza and Romero discuss issues of politics, economics, migrations, authoritarianism, human rights, and democracy in two nations that hoped to make a better world through their revolutionary journeys.
Leicht, Kevin T. 2022. “Inequality and the Status Window: Inequality, Conflict, and the Salience of Status Differences in Conflicts over Resources.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8(6): 103-121. DOI: 10.7758/RSF.2022.8.6.06. The study of the relationship between social status and inequality has a distinguished history. Inequality scholars outside this tradition have paid more attention to social status in response to a set of seemingly persistent paradoxes that defy easy explanation. I add to the tradition by developing the concept of status windows and status windows overlap to partially account for differences in the relationship between social status and inequality processes in low- and high-inequality environments. These concepts are tied to the functioning of social status in creating and maintaining inequality and to the characteristics of social networks that develop in (especially) high-inequality environments. I examine how the concepts of status windows and status window overlap can help explain some paradoxes in responses to heightened social inequality and recommend that research focus on understandings of status windows and status windows overlap to understand why social inequality continues unabated in some places.
Mijs, Jonathan J.B. 2022. “Organizing a weak anti-prison movement? Surrogate representation and political pacification at a nonprofit prison reentry organization.” Race and Space (Research on Social Movements, Conflicts and Change) 46: 87-107. The nonprofit sector has come to deliver the majority of state-funded social services in the US. Citizens depend on nonprofit organizations for these services, and nonprofits depend on government for financial support. Scholars have begun to ask important questions about the political and civic implications of this new organizational configuration. These questions have direct ramifications for the anti-prison movement given the explosive growth of nonprofit prison reentry organizations in recent years. To see how such organizations may impact political engagement and social movements, this chapter turns its focus on the intricate dynamics of client-staff interactions. Leveraging a yearlong ethnography of a government-funded prison reentry organization, I describe how such organizations can be politically active and at the same time contribute to their clients’ political pacification. Staff members engaged in political activities in surrogate representation of their clients. While staffers advocated on their behalf, clients learned to avoid politics and community life, accept injustices for what they are, and focus instead on individual rehabilitation. By closely studying what goes on within a nonprofit service provider, I illustrate the nonprofit organization’s dual political role and its implications for social movements and political change.
Paret, Marcel. 2022. Fractured Militancy: Precarious Resistance in South Africa After Racial Inclusion. Cornell University Press. What are the legacies and ongoing realities of racial capitalism in the post-civil rights, post-apartheid era? What are the causes and consequences of Black protest, after formal racial inclusion, and how do precarious layers of the working-class forge resistance? Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with activists, Fractured Militancy tells the story of post-apartheid South Africa from the perspective of four low-income Black neighborhoods in and around Johannesburg – along the way, offering parallels and contrasts to the United States. It will be of interest to scholars and students of race, immigration, social movements, development and the political dimensions of capitalism. Marcel Paret traces rising protests back to the process of democratization and racial inclusion, which took the form of an elite-driven “passive revolution” from above. This process dangled the possibility of change but preserved racial inequality and economic insecurity, prompting residents to use militant protests to express their deep sense of betrayal and to demand recognition and community development. Underscoring remarkable parallels to Black Lives Matter in the United States, this account attests to an ongoing struggle for Black liberation in the wake of formal racial inclusion. Rather than unified resistance, however, class struggles within the process of racial inclusion produced a fractured militancy. Revealing the complicated truth behind the celebrated “success” of South African democratization, Paret uncovers a society divided by wealth, urban geography, nationality, employment, and political views. Fractured Militancy warns of the threat that capitalism and elite class struggles present to social movements and racial justice everywhere.
Gautney, Heather. 2022. The New Power Elite. Oxford University Press. In 1956, radical icon C. Wright Mills wrote The Power Elite, a scathing critique of elite power in the United States that has become a classic for generations of nonconformists and students of social and political inequality. With rising rates of inequality and social stratification, Mills’ work is now more relevant than ever, revealing a need for a fresh examination of American elitism and the nature of centralized power. In The New Power Elite, Heather Gautney takes up the problem of concentrated political, economic, and military power in America that Mills addressed in his original text and echoes his outrage over the injustices and ruin brought by today’s elites. Drawing from years of experience at the highest levels of government and in the entertainment industry, Gautney examines the dynamics of elite power from the postwar period to today and grounds her analysis in political economy, rather than in institutional authority, as Mills did. In doing so, she covers diverse, yet interconnected centers of elite power, from the US State and military apparatus, to Wall Street and billionaires, to celebrities and mass media. Gautney also accounts for changes in global capitalism over the last forty years, arguing that neoliberalism and the centering of the market in political and social life has ushered in ever more extreme forms of violence and exploitation, and a drift toward authoritarianism. A contemporary companion to Mills’ work through a fresh critique of elites for the new millennium, The New Power Elite offers a comprehensive look at the structure of American power and its tethers around the world.