DESDEMO examines how and to what extent socio-ecological inequality and injustice affect processes of substantive democratization. It seeks to answer this question by focusing on conflicts connected with these inequalities and injustices taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) during 2000-2020. The research adopts a sociology-grounded political ecology approach within a long-term, comparative, inter- and transdiciplinary framework, involving close interaction and mutual learning with non-academic actors.

Although environmental questions are often the cause of inequality, injustice, and conflict, there is a persistent tendency to neglect, put aside or dismiss the socio-ecological dimension of substantive democratization. The topic is usually absent in studies of democratization processes, which fail to account for the significance of the socio-ecological dimension. Also, mainstream approaches to development, including those by critical authors, when addressing the challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean continue to play down the significance of socio-ecological inequalities and injustices derived from the politics and practices of development. Thus, despite increasing attention to environmental issues in the social sciences, the socio-ecological dimension of democratization processes remains under researched. This project aims to enhance our understanding by incorporating in the analysis the increasing relevance of socio-ecological inequality and injustice as crucial obstacles to democratization processes.

Strategic Objectives

Advancing knowledge on
  1. The interrelations between socio-ecological inequalities and injustices and substantive democratization processes
  2. The mechanisms that may explain why dominant, long-term patterns of thinking and practice fail to break free from reductionist (productivist, developmentist, techno-scientific, etc.) understandings of such interrelations
  3. The factors and processes that may allow the development of alternative forms of thinking and practice in this field

Specific Objectives

  1. Mapping and analyse the scale, spatial and temporal distribution, intensity, recurrence, and nature of socio-ecological conflicts in Latin America and the Caribbean during 2000-2020
  2. Charting the transformations in productive activities related to these conflicts
  3. Carrying out a systematic comparative, multidimensional, study of specific cases of socio-ecological conflicts in the region
  4. Identifying and analysing the prevailing mind frames, values, beliefs, material interests, and practices of the region’s intellectual and power elites regarding the interrelations between socio-ecological inequalities and injustices and substantive democratization processes
  5. Researching examples of the emergence of alternative approaches that contribute to making observable such interrelations