Dissertation Abstracts

Grassroots Human Rights Activism in Contemporary Colombia

Author: Esparza, Louis , lesparz5@calstatela.edu
Department: Sociology
University: Stony Brook University, USA
Supervisor: Michael Schwartz
Year of completion: 2010
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: social movements , latin america , human rights , colombia
Areas of Research: Human Rights and Global Justice , Social Classes and Social Movements , Labor Movements


Activists who become involved in radical politics often put themselves in dangerous
situations to achieve objectives that seem highly improbable. More often than not, their efforts are thwarted, yet many activists keep trying. How does one sustain the vision that drives high-risk activists over the long-term in the face of such resistance to change? Using interviews with grassroots human rights activists in Bogota, Colombia, this dissertation explores theories of high-risk political behavior. It argues that the analysis of processes of coming to engage in high-risk activism lends robust insights into what makes a person decide to participate in high-risk activism. This shift in focus explains the contradictory results in studies that focus on identity, demographic variables, social networks, ideological beliefs, or biographical availability.

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