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Dealing with Poverty: Change and Continuity in Argentine Social Policies
Unformatted Document Text:  innovative activities of social reproduction by popular sectors into a social policy. Indeed, the activities framed by the notion of “new social economy” have been more or less spontaneous responses to exclusion with a strong political content since the last 15 years. This movement of translation has important political implications. Is the MO, and other similar although minor programs of the kind, an expression of state control over social process of contestation or a progressive initiative by state officials? Moreover, are these policies promoting or limiting the political potential of social economy activities? This formulation of the problem could be misleading. As Topalov suggests, these questions do not take into account that “in these kinds of historical processes there are always at least two elements at stake, above and below, which both change along with the system of power that connects them” (Topalov, 2004: p. 46). While scholars have paid much attention to the problems and/or potential of social economy and have considered the effects of their relation with the state 39 , less attention has been given to the opposite movement, that is, the impact that these new perspectives might have -or not- on the state structure and its relation with society 40 . In this line of analysis, then, and coming back to our main concern here, we should ask to what extent these new “translated from the bottom-up” perspectives have involved a real reorientation of social policies as a whole. 2. Qualifying the changes: the limits of the socio-economic turn 41 A first clear indicator of the relative position of the Plan Shoulder to the Wheel (MO) within MDS’ social policies is the distribution of the expended budget. The MO represents less than 4% of the total expended budget of the MDS last years (See Table 2). Despite the institutional 39 These works interrogate the actual effects of this kind of “translated from the bottom-up” state policies on the new social economy movement –whether they flatten or strengthen them, whether they depoliticized them or not, whether they take into account local realities or not, and whether they are effective or not. They also analyze the problems in enforcing, among the members of social organizations, principles of horizontality and equality given differentials of gender, expertise and others deeply embedded social asymmetries. On this topic see for example Bidaseca (2006), Pereyra (2006), Leoni and Luzzi (2006), and Freytes Frey, A. (forthcoming). 40 For example, there is a very recent process of creation of areas oriented to social economy within sub-national states (provincial and municipal). For a map of state organizational units in its diverse levels (national, provincial and municipal) oriented by the principles of social economy and local development see Hintze (2007b). On the enfacement of boundaries between state and society in a context of social policies oriented to socio-economic development see, for example, Charia and De Virgilio (2006). 41 This section is based on data from documents produced by Social Economy Area in the MDS and from 15 personal interviews -carried on during December 2007- with state officials, coordinators and technicians belonging to the MO. I have also used secondary resources as complementary insights.

Authors: Perelmiter, Luisina.
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innovative activities of social reproduction by popular sectors into a social policy. Indeed, the
activities framed by the notion of “new social economy” have been more or less spontaneous
responses to exclusion with a strong political content since the last 15 years.
This movement of translation has important political implications. Is the MO, and other similar
although minor programs of the kind, an expression of state control over social process of
contestation or a progressive initiative by state officials? Moreover, are these policies
promoting or limiting the political potential of social economy activities? This formulation of
the problem could be misleading. As Topalov suggests, these questions do not take into
account that “in these kinds of historical processes there are always at least two elements at
stake, above and below, which both change along with the system of power that connects
them” (Topalov, 2004: p. 46). While scholars have paid much attention to the problems and/or
potential of social economy and have considered the effects of their relation with the state
,
less attention has been given to the opposite movement, that is, the impact that these new
perspectives might have -or not- on the state structure and its relation with society
. In this line
of analysis, then, and coming back to our main concern here, we should ask to what extent
these new “translated from the bottom-up” perspectives have involved a real reorientation of
social policies as a whole.
2. Qualifying the changes: the limits of the socio-economic turn
A first clear indicator of the relative position of the Plan Shoulder to the Wheel (MO) within
MDS’ social policies is the distribution of the expended budget. The MO represents less than
4% of the total expended budget of the MDS last years (See Table 2). Despite the institutional
39
These works interrogate the actual effects of this kind of “translated from the bottom-up” state policies on the
new social economy movement –whether they flatten or strengthen them, whether they depoliticized them or not,
whether they take into account local realities or not, and whether they are effective or not. They also analyze the
problems in enforcing, among the members of social organizations, principles of horizontality and equality given
differentials of gender, expertise and others deeply embedded social asymmetries. On this topic see for example
Bidaseca (2006), Pereyra (2006), Leoni and Luzzi (2006), and Freytes Frey, A. (forthcoming).
40
For example, there is a very recent process of creation of areas oriented to social economy within sub-national
states (provincial and municipal). For a map of state organizational units in its diverse levels (national, provincial
and municipal) oriented by the principles of social economy and local development see Hintze (2007b). On the
enfacement of boundaries between state and society in a context of social policies oriented to socio-economic
development see, for example, Charia and De Virgilio (2006).
41
This section is based on data from documents produced by Social Economy Area in the MDS and from 15
personal interviews -carried on during December 2007- with state officials, coordinators and technicians
belonging to the MO. I have also used secondary resources as complementary insights.


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