Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Félix E. Martín

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Eduardo Gamarra

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Kyle Mattes

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Jean-Claude García-Zamor

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Political Economy, South America, Dependency Theory, Development, Poverty, Inequality

Date of Defense



The socioeconomic history of South America has been traditionally marked by the chronic problems of poverty and inequality. South American states and societies have commonly failed to address these issues effectively, which continue to characterize the region’s socioeconomic outlook today. The persistence of poverty and inequality has created social and political pressures on those designing economic policy, prioritizing short-term “alleviating” mechanisms rather than long-term structural solutions. These same conditions, combined with historical experiences, have created a singular cyclical dynamic in the political economy of the region. In this context, this dissertation explores the underlying causes behind the continuity of such socioeconomic conditions. In doing so, the present study explores the systemic and structural conditions that influence the political economy of South America. Therefore, this dissertation situates itself within the academic literature on South American development, all the while it reinterprets the South American experience by focusing on the structure and the role of the state as the main factor behind the continuity of socioeconomic challenges in the region. In this sense, this dissertation advances the state argument to understand what factors explain the presence of socioeconomic challenges in South America’s political economy, and to explain why there is no change in these conditions or the political economy to tackle them.





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