In this vivid ethnography set in contemporary Peru, Susan Stokes provides a compelling analysis of the making and unmaking of class consciousness among the urban poor. Her research strategy is multifaceted; through interviews, participant observation, and survey research she digs deeply into the popular culture of the social activists and shantytown residents she studies. The result is a penetrating look at how social movements evolve, how poor people construct independent political cultures, and how the ideological domination of oppressed classes can shatter.
This work is a new and vital chapter in the growing literature on the formation of social movements. It chronicles the transformation of Peru's poor from a culture of deference and clientelism in the late 1960s to a population mobilized for radical political action today.
Susan Stokes is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.