The Social Life of Politics

A central motor of Argentine historical and political development since the early twentieth century, unions have been the site of active citizenship in both political participation and the distribution of social, economic, political, and cultural rights. What brings activists to Argentine unions and what gives these unions their remarkable strength?

The Social Life of Politics examines the intimate, personal, and family dimensions of two political activist groups: the Union of National Civil Servants (UPCN) and the Association of State Workers (ATE). These two unions represent distinct political orientations within Argentina’s broad, vibrant labor movement: UPCN identifies as predominantly Peronist, disciplined, and supportive of incumbent government, while ATE prides itself on its democratic, horizontal approach and relative autonomy from the electoral process. Sian Lazar examines how activists in both unions create themselves as particular kinds of militants and forms of political community. The Social Life of Politics places the lived experience of political activism into historical relief and shows how ethics and family values deeply inform the process by which political actors are formed, understood, and joined together through collectivism.

Photos, videos etc. referred to in the book

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 refers to a slide show that I produced based on a calendar that ATE brought out in 2010, which illustrates the range of jobs done by their affiliates. See this post for more details.

Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 I describe a number of street demonstrations, by both ATE and UPCN.  Again, I suppose the point here is the range. Here are some more photos.

ATE & CTA demonstrations


CGT demonstration

The aftermath of a ‘papeleo’ at a teachers’ demonstration

Policing the demo (2012): controlling traffic, directing it away from the march

Creativity in the demo: defending public ownership of the Teatro Colon.

Asserting national belonging, and the importance of the Teatro Colon for Argentine identity. See also my article published in JLACA on this conflict.

A festival to protest the closure of the Puerto Pibes, a children’s centre.

The drums. See  – or rather listen to – my podcast on the importance of drums in Argentine protests.


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