[11/4/19] – Chilean Revolution

On October 14, 2019 Santiago, Chile erupted in revolution related to an ever-increasing pressure on those struggling just to make ends meet by the rich and powerful of the country. Fare increases to public transit, a lifeline to millions of folks living in the largest city in Chile, was the line that, when crossed, civilians in Santiago, and sooner after elsewhere, took to the streets to voice their opinions about living in the shadow of the rich and powerful who continue to exploit and oppress populations they consider to be below them. Interestingly, Santiago is not the only place where a growing gulf exists between folks at the higher end of the wealth spectrum and those at the lower across the globe. So far, nearly 20 people have died, and thousands have been arrested. Revolutionaries in the streets of Chile raising awareness about conditions they are living under are being characterized as an “enemy” by President Pinera. The question is, an enemy to whom? And what limits will those challenged by the enemy go to restore civility to their nation? These are the most active and widespread demonstrations Chile has seen since Pinochet. Wealth inequality, exploitation of poorer populations, and civic engagement are the focus of this week’s lecture spark. We focus on Marx’s view of revolution, community efficacy, and the hegemonic power of social class.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Chilean Revolution

Learning Objectives

LO1: Understand how division of resources in capitalist nations often leads to a system where a few groups benefit from having the most resources while other groups suffer.

LO2: Explain the cost of losing the hegemonic dominance of the public for those in positions of power, especially in terms of social class.

LO3: Discuss alternatives for the existing social order that might create a more level playing field for people from all backgrounds to succeed.


Chile protests: Clashes in Santiago as unrest continues – BBC News

Five people died after looters torched a garment factory near Chile’s capital Santiago, bringing the death toll in violent protests to at least eight. The military and police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters and a curfew was imposed in major cities. A state of emergency already in place in Santiago is to be extended to cities in the country’s north and south. The unrest, sparked by a now suspended metro fare hike, has widened to reflect anger over living costs and inequality. There is set to be major disruption on Monday with many banks, schools and shops expected to remain closed.

Protesters in Chile clash with riot police amid growing unrest

Chile’s embattled president has been forced to cancel two major international summits after government concessions failed to defuse weeks of violent protests. At least 20 people have died in the unrest after thousands took to the streets more than a week ago in anger over social and economic inequality

Chile’s Pinera faces new protests after firing ministers

The biggest demonstrations in a generation show no signs of abating in Chile, despite President Sebastian Pinera’s cabinet reshuffle and promises of economic reform. That has come too late for the protesters who are angered by allegations of police brutality. Security forces clashed again with demonstrators, and tens of thousands marched through the capital on Monday.

Discussion Questions

What alternatives to the social order of Chile are possible that could satisfy both sides of this revolution? Is it possible that only a full-scale revisiting of the social order of the country can restructure the country in a way that satisfies both sides? Are there more minor fixes that can be done along the way to decrease distrust of the agencies in place to serve the public?

Similar demonstrations occurred in Chile nearly 50 years ago. What does that say about the staying power of wealth inequality? How does a system of social institutions work together to maintain an unequal system of reward and resource allocation? Why might some powerful groups cling to this system as opposed to working to dismantle it? What is the role of students and young people in this revolution?

How might Marx view people living in the United States as compared to people living in Chile? Might he say Americans are fools for allowing wealth inequality and corporate profits surge while millions of Americans are in some way deleteriously impacted by a lack of resources every year? What might it take for a similar revolution to happen here?

What happens to norms of social order in a state of revolution? What factors contribute to the state of Anomie many experiences in a state of revolution? How might this influence an everyday citizen to become a revolutionary? How might this contribute to allegations Amnesty International and Chilean human rights groups about torture, sexual assault, and illegal detention of protestors by government agencies? What might provoke one to engage with the protests?

What is the role of the global media in the Chilean revolution? Why might some outlets continue to air stories that portray the protestors as evil and misguided? How might the hegemony of social class contribute to this trend? Why is it necessary for social order, for some, that the public believes and agrees that only those who work hard for their money deserve it, and there is no limit to what an individual should be able to hoard?



Sociologists define _______ as a system of powerful structures and networks designed to maintain ideological control over a society through the creation and maintenance of a narrative that benefits the powerful at the willful expense of the rest of the population.
a. Conglomeration
b. Privatization
c. Hegemony
d. Brainwashing

_______ would be most interested in understanding the catalyst of the revolution in Chile as a result of inequalities in wealth distribution among the population.
a. Emile Durkheim
b. Margaret Mead
c. WEB DuBois
d. Karl Marx

From a _______ perspective, the media portrayal of protestors as violent and focusing on the bloodshed occurring as opposed to the message of the revolution influences the social construction of the protestors in the minds of all who consume it. This in turn influences their attitudes and behaviors related to supporting either side of the revolution.
a. Functionalist
b. Conflict
c. Symbolic-Interaction
d. Fixed



Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/Atypeek

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