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Revista de Sociologia e Política

On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


RIVAROLA, María Dolores Rocca. Missing the Party: Nostalgic References in Government-Supporting Activists in Argentina and Brazil (2003-2015). Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2017, vol.25, n.62, pp.37-61. ISSN 1678-9873.

The paper examines and compares the presence of nostalgic references between militants of government-supporting organizations in Brazil and Argentina since the inauguration of Lula and Kirchner. As part of a wider research on grassroots activism within governments' political bases in both countries, the phenomenon of nostalgia observed in this study is interpreted as one of the two faces of the impact that political scenes of intense fluctuation in identities and volatility in electoral behavior have had over active militant groups: on one hand, an adaptation to those conditions of political life – through the transformation of the militant bonds and of the organizational formats of activism – and, on the other, a parallel phenomenon, which this paper specifically addresses of nostalgic appeals, referred to a past of rooted political identities and parties (or the interviewees' own party) with an intense everyday life and a strong bond with voters. The paper adopts a qualitative methodological perspective, taking into consideration the actors' own interpretations and conceptions and analyzing semi-structured interviews conducted in four districts: the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, and the city of Buenos Aires and some of its suburban areas, with special focus in La Matanza, in Argentina (56 with government-supporting militants since 2013, and other of 74 interviews conducted for a previous research between 2005 and 2010 in the same locations). Through the association or clustering of different categories created during coding, we have identified two dimensions of nostalgia: first, references to a typical “past militant”; and, second, references to the context or exterior conditions in which political militants campaigned or acted. Findings from that qualitative analysis show an effective weight of those nostalgic references. It should be noted, however, that their presence is not homogeneous in both cases, or between the different organizations – it predominates among PT activists in Brazil and within the Peronist Party's (PJ) territorial networks in Argentina, but it fades when it comes to the new organizations that proliferated from outside the PJ in the past decade – or even between different generations of activists. Moreover, although the two dimensions of nostalgia mentioned before are frequent in the Brazilian actors' accounts, it is only the second dimension that prevails among the Argentine interviewees. The paper seeks to contribute to the academic debate on activism and political commitment today. Also, even in agreement with literature that suggests the weakening of structural and psychological links between parties and citizens, we argue the relevance of studying political militancy, which paradoxically has survived in those contexts of fluctuation.

Keywords : activism; Argentina; Brazil; Workers' Party; Kirchner.

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