How Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Study Centers on the Reshaping of Chilean Political Right

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Andrea GARTENLAUB, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales Universidad de Chile, Chile
Stephanie ALENDA, Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago de Chile, Chile
Since the poor results obtained by Chilean right wing coalition –integrated by the two traditional parties, UDI and RN– in the last presidential and parliamentary elections, the political sector has undergone a process of renovation revealed through various expressions: a generational turnover of leadership within RN and the UDI; the consolidation of a “liberal” current of thought, the emergence of new political organizations (Amplitud, in january and Evópoli, in april 2014), but also the rise of new think tanks and foundations altogether with a new generation of researchers concerned by subjects traditionally associated with the left: human rights, citizen participation, social inequalities. By reframing those topics, parties and study centers are joining efforts for the reshaping of a modern “new” right. This aim raises however a fundamental question that will be addressed in our paper: how do the seven think tanks linked to the sector matter in this renovation (if they matter), being part of a diversified and competitive subfield composed by four old and new political parties whose positions about moral subjects are not homogeneous? In order to answer the question, we will analyze the instances and the actors who participate in the ideological production, conservation or transformation of “the right”, considering both individual and institutional levels. Recurring to biographical interviews, we will on the one hand reconstruct the trajectory of old established and emergent intellectual right-wing elites, searching to understand the variations in their perceptions about moral issues as a result of differentiated socializations and positions in the subfield. We will also examine the ideological production of think tanks on different topics, paying attention to its evolution in some cases, or to its novelty in others. Finally, we will confront these analyses with the results of a survey applied to the elites of the four parties in question.