UCL Institute of the Americas


Institute of the Americas Public Seminar Series Dr Simón Escoffier & Professor Francisco Panizza

07 February 2024, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Public Series seminar

From Community Organizing to a Large Scale Uprising: Citizenship and Patronage Politics in Chile’s Urban Margins

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Institute of Americas


Room 103
UCL Institute of Americans
51 Gordon Square

In October 2019, unprecedented mobilizations in Chile took the world by surprise. They defied decades of deep inequality and opened new avenues for Chilean democracy. These demonstrations resembled the events that in the past couple of decades sought to expand democracy in places like the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, Tunisia, Argentina, Egypt, and Hong Kong. Although these Chilean protests involved a myriad of organizations with different social backgrounds and demands, the organizational capabilities provided by the urban poor proved essential in sustaining collective action in an increasingly repressive environment. This event launches the book Mobilizing at the Urban Margins (Cambridge University Press), which is based on almost six years of fieldwork in Santiago’s urban excluded areas. The research features the compelling story of two underprivileged neighborhoods that had almost identical paths of development before Chile’s democratic transition. After 1990, however, these two neighborhoods embarked upon dramatically diverging paths. While one has sustained mobilization over the past 35 years, in the other neighborhood local organizing became depoliticized and was deactivated. To explain how communities in the urban margins sustain mobilization in very inhospitable conditions for collective action, the book outlines the novel framework of mobilizational citizenship. Through mobilizational citizenship those communities can also build the mobilizing capabilities needed to support large-scale protests and broader democratizing processes that extend beyond their immediate community, district, or city.

Simón Escoffier is a political sociologist exploring the controversial role of collective action and social movements in current democracies. He is the author of the book Mobilizing at the Urban Margins: Citizenship and Patronage Politics in Post-Dictatorial Chile (2023 with Cambridge University Press) and the co-editor of the volume The Right against Rights in Latin America (2023 with Oxford University Press). He is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Simón received his DPhil in Sociology from St Antony’s College, at the University of Oxford, and a master’s from the London School of Economics.

Professor Francisco Panizza, is a professor of Latin American and comparative politics in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Chair: Dr Francesca Lessa