Young Middle-Class People Looking for Political Alternatives in Lima, Peru

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Franka WINTER, Maynooth University, Ireland
This paper draws on a recent study of political and civic discourses and practices among young middle-class people in Lima, Peru.

It addresses their relationship with politics by discussing their perceptions of established political organizations (such as political parties and unions), their political utopias of ideal political organizations, and their attempts at doing politics differently in alternative political organizations.

Most of my participants were highly critical of established political parties, which they perceived as hierarchical, ideologically backward, corrupt, and unable to make a change. Several in particular highlighted dynamics of exclusion based on gender and age. In consequence, political parties were not an attractive option for most of my participants.

However, this disillusion did not translate into political alienation. To the contrary, many of my participants were very interested in politics. There was furthermore a strong feeling that young, educated people like themselves could be crucial agents of change, and many drew inspiration and hope from the “new generation” they belonged to.

Shunning traditional parties, many of my participants participated in (or even founded) alternative organizations, such as collectives or other small-scale groups. Some even even participated in local elections through these alternative organizations, but remained opposed to the idea of becoming a party. These alternative organizations were seen as "fundamentally different" from political parties and appealed to my informants for their different structure and political culture, which was often described as bottom-up, horizontal, inclusive, and coherent with respect to its values and moral integrity.

The paper concludes with some reflections on the limitations and trade-offs that come with these new political organizations, in particular whether they can overcome (or merely transform) exclusions in a highly unequal society.