Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS)

Melisa Ross

Melisa Ross

BGSS Generation 2017



Empowerment and Emancipation: a comparative case study on the emergence and construction of meaning during left-turn governments in Latin America (2003-2016)






This project proposes to explore the emergence, uses, and conflicts around the notion of empowerment as it emerges in public policies and state discourse, and the role it has played in the promotion of political ends of inclusion, equality, and social justice by governments of the left turn in Latin America. To do so, this inquiry is designed as a comparative case study relying on the documentary analysis of public discourse, legislation, and government-led social policies implemented in the four cases of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay during the period of 2003-2016.

Through a reconstructive approach, a documentary analysis will be conducted focusing on the production of meaning and the use of the term empowerment as qualifying means and ends of specific democratic practices, the implementation of innovative policy strategies and the reform of institutions. Based on process tracing as a data collection strategy, the project further aims at retracing the discursive connections between the uses of empowerment and the appeal to popular power and popular sovereignty as the basis for the refoundation of political systems; tracing back to the possible influences that understandings, debates, and appropriations around the concept of emancipation have had upon the conception and use of the former terms.


Recent Publications