Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Paul K. Gellert, Harry F. Dahms, Jana Morgan


In the 1980s and 1990s, the Latin American region experienced a profound shift in development ideologies that resulted in the creation of a new type of state: the Latin American neoliberal state. This state emerged in three stages: the stabilization stage—focused on balance of payments and austerity; the structural adjustment stage—which was more broadly and deeply focused on changing the structure and culture of society; and the institutional turn—which was an acknowledgment that the neoliberal state had not effectively dealt with poverty, inequality, or the quality of institutions that integrated market, society, and polity. Beginning in the early 2000s, an electoral shift to the left swept through the region and was characterized by antagonistic rhetoric towards neoliberal policies. This study compares the historical developments of Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru and shows that in cases where the neoliberal state was fully developed, the leftist shift either did not occur (Peru) during the 2000s, or where it did occur (Argentina) did not constitute a break with the neoliberal state but rather formed a fourth stage of neoliberalism. In this stage, the government sought to increase spending on some social programs but did so in ways that legitimated the wider neoliberal state rather than creating a new developmental model that would move beyond neoliberalism.

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