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Intersecting Inequality: An Interpretative Minor Field Study of Inequality in Bolivia
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This Bachelor thesis is an interpretive study, where the material has mainly been gathered through ethnographic methods, with thematically opened interviews and observations providing the primary data. A field study was conducted in Bolivia during the months of November and December of 2009; in La Paz in the Western highlands, including some interviews in the fast growing suburb El Alto, as well as in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in the Eastern lowlands.

Bolivia is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in Latin America and the world, and the purpose of the study is to re-contextualise and re-interpret how inequality is created and maintained in the Bolivian society by doing a case study on gender inequality. In addition, an intersectional analysis is used that takes into account the diversity of the Bolivian society in terms of ethnicity and class. The study aims at exploring the mechanisms that create and maintain inequality in a Bolivian context as well as looking at the prospects for potential change in the unequal relations between groups of people within the new context of indigenous president Evo Morales and a new inclusive constitution.

Using an abductive method, the empirical material has been re-interpreted with the help of American sociologist Charles Tilly’s framework of durable inequality. He identifies two mechanisms that create inequality, exploitation and opportunity hoarding, and two mechanisms that reinforce inequality; emulation and adaptation. Together with the concept of intersectionality, recognising women’s different experiences depending on, for instance, ethnic background or social class, these two frameworks are framing the study. Jointly they generate a new analytical tool that can deepen the understanding inequality mechanisms: the Intersecting Inequality Framework.

The content of the interviews when analysed show that inequalities in Bolivia have long historical roots, and that the processes of exploitation, opportunity hoarding, emulation and adaptation that Tilly describes all take place in creating and maintaining an unequal position for Bolivian women. The Intersecting Inequality Framework reveals that the inequality mechanisms in the three dimensions of gender, ethnicity and class sometimes work autonomously and other times intersectionally.

Changing durable inequality is a slow process; nevertheless there are signs of changed relations between categorical bounded groups in the Bolivian society. Although, in the context of Morales the main political focus at the time lays not on attaining gender equality, but rather to continue the empowerment of the indigenous populations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 52 p.
Keyword [en]
Bolivia, Charles Tilly, Inequality, Durable inequality, Intersectionality, Gender, Ethnicity, Class
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-30085OAI: diva2:661143
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
International Social Sciences Programme, specialization Global Studies, 180 credits
Available from: 2013-11-04 Created: 2013-10-31 Last updated: 2016-02-22Bibliographically approved

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