351.4 To be (or not to be) a market-organizer: Unpacking the Chilean neoliberal state

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:15 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Antoine MAILLET , CERI, Sciences-Po, France
Numerous studies have explored how markets are created, allowing us to accumulate knowledge about how this process, a product of interaction between firms, state regulations and consumer choices, takes place. However, much less is known about why state interventions can vary from one market to another. Some would assume that it is inherent to the goods and services that circulate in specific markets. That would be the case in “natural monopoly”, for example. However, as social scientists we know that the borders of these markets are unstable, as the subjects and objects of exchange are recast in new processes of enactment.

From a political science perspective, but inside the broader context of the sociology of markets, we look at the variation of state intervention – on quality and scope – in six “created” markets in Chile during the Concertation governments (1990-2010). In these markets “born” during the dictatorship, we observe strategies that are very different, in a range that goes from an almost complete “laissez faire” to a more complex “faire faire” (make do) or “faire avec” (do with). Even the most classical “faire” (do), that one would expect to disappear in an almost paradigmatic neoliberal case such as Chile, remains an option, and sometimes prevails.

Through a sectorial comparison, we will analyze the complex interactions of these strategies in the markets of telecoms, public transportation, electricity, health insurance, superior education and pensions. We will also advance some hypotheses about the causal mechanisms that might explain the combination of instruments and strategies that make up for different policy mixes. Eventhough macro comparison has some drawbacks in terms of depth of the study, it proves itself to be a powerful approach to emphasize the diversity in ties and connections that can link state institutions with the other actors in the market.