Industrialisation and the working class: the contested trajectories of ISI in Chile and Argentina

Fishwick, Adam (2015) Industrialisation and the working class: the contested trajectories of ISI in Chile and Argentina. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Research on import-substitution industrialisation (ISI) in Latin America continues to
portray it as an aberration of state-led development inevitably condemned to failure and
held up as an example of the mistakes scholars and policymakers must avoid. In this
thesis, however, I show that this misunderstanding of a “model” that lasted several
decades and brought gains to a wide array of socioeconomic actors is due to an inability
of leading approaches – those that focus on institutions, ideas, and class – to understand
the role of labour. Drawing on detailed primary and secondary empirical evidence on
leading sectors in Chile and Argentina, my central claim is that workers determined the
trajectories of ISI by contesting the effect of strategies pursued by firms and the state
within the workplace. I show that ISI was no aberration, but that it comprised an
intrinsically purposive set of strategies aimed at ameliorating or suppressing the real and
potential resistance mobilised by workers. Through a novel theoretical synthesis,
bringing into IPE innovations from critical labour relations theory, Marxist development
studies, institutional theories of ideas, and Latin American labour history, I overcome
the predominant perspective on labour that conceptualises workers’ as inherently
disruptive, but institutionally far weaker than other societal actors. The problem with
such a view, I argue, is not that labour is absent, but rather that the way in which it has
been understood leaves workers with little or no influence over a process that simply
unfolded beyond their control. In this thesis, the result is a counter-narrative on the
history of ISI in Chile and Argentina, with the relationship between measures aimed at
establishing control over labour and the resistance this engendered firmly at the fore.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD4801 Labour. Work. Working class > HD8045 By region or country > HD8101 Other regions or countries > HD8110.5 Latin America
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2015 05:28
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015 14:41

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update