Dissertation Abstracts

The social construction of a post-partisan political utopia mediated by the "Congreso Nacional Ciudadano" in Mexico City

Author: Guillem Compte Nunes, guillemcn@gmail.com
Department: Centro de Estudios Sociológicos
University: El Colegio de México, Mexico
Supervisor: Marco Estrada Saavedra
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Spanish

Keywords: utopia , post-partisan , Mexico , ethnography
Areas of Research: Futures Research , Political Sociology , Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change

Abstract

The aim is to study the emergence of a post-partisan utopia in Mexico. Numerous studies and indicators suggest a global legitimacy crisis of representative democracy. Social movements that appeal to the democratic social imaginary point to the need to formulate and build new tools and scenarios for realizing “the rule of the people”. In contemporary Mexico, several nonpartisan civil society groups are simultaneously appearing. They seek to transcend the hegemonic political paradigm of party domination. Instead, they propose the devolution of political power to citizens and the development of a citizen-centered democracy. Among them, the “Congreso Nacional Ciudadano” (CONACI) has the longest trajectory, originating in 2009 in Monterrey and going nationwide in 2014. Post-partisan here means beyond political parties in the sense of transcendence (not cross-party collaboration). A post-partisan utopia envisions a new political order beyond parties, managed by the citizenry. In this new sphere parties may or may not exist but, in any case, they are irreversibly subordinated to nonpartisan citizens. I define the post-partisan utopia as a social process which, as mediated by a group, consists of a number of social practices and comprises five dimensions: (1) a conception of post-partisanship; (2) a fierce criticism of the domination of political parties over the political process; (3) a strong desire for a change in political paradigm, from the current party-centered to a new citizen-centered model; (4) a conception of the post-partisan future; and (5) the absolutization of the discontinuity partisan–post-partisan in temporality. The research question is: how is the post-partisan utopia mediated by the Mexico City CONACI “citizen cell” being socially constructed? The main theoretical approaches include social constructivism, the resource mobilization and identity social movement paradigms, the theory of fields and capitals, the theory of frames in social movement literature, dramaturgy, and theories of domination and resistance. I use two methodological approaches: ethnography and the biographical method. Beginning in November 2014 I increasingly participated in the Mexico City CONACI “cell”, being accepted as a full member in November 2015. This involvement, continued into 2017, has allowed me to gather ethnographical data, document participant observations, and write an account of the social practices developed by this local group. I have also interviewed 16 participants to construct their political trajectories. A second round of interviews provides the perception of the group by relevant outsiders. A main finding is the mostly unnoticed reproduction of the “old partisan order” within the post-partisan utopian group, probably due to the lack of internal mechanisms for learning and reflection. Thus willingness, good intentions, and desires do not necessarily translate into behaviors which are coherent with the master narrative of the new post-partisan utopia. I hypothesize that without a social institution (today inexistent) devoted to the political education of adult citizens, social movements which aim at systemic political change are bound to fail.

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