Globalization, Latin America, and the quest for democracy in the work of Alejandro Serrano Caldera

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

John W. Murphy - Committee Chair


For the past couple of decades, the current trend known as "globalization" has been critiqued by many Latin American writers as constituting a more sophisticated form of colonialism. Specifically, the colonial structures of the past are no longer secured through overt force, but rather behind a facade of neutrality and rationality. This subtle form of social control is predicated on social ontological realism, a dualistic theoretical tradition that proposes the existence of an apolitical or non-contingent design for society that governs all aspects of social life.Today, neoliberalism---the dominant model governing the so-called global order---is the most recent variant of this realist tradition. Laissez-faire capitalism, according to this model, is a perfect institutional design that needs no moral basis outside of its own logic, for all private interests are said to be channeled automatically into the common good through abstract social forces related to the market's "invisible hand." As a result, solidarity and social responsibility are replaced by an extreme form of free competition whereby those in positions of power have unconstrained authority to pursue their private interests at the expense of everyone else in the name of "freedom."In this dissertation, the present author draws from the work of Nicaraguan social philosopher, Alejandro Serrano Caldera, to critique the legitimacy of neoliberalism, and to show the need; feasibility, and justification for: (1) a social order were human differences are not restrained but allowed to flourish; (2) an embodied global ethic whereby people are no longer exonerated of responsibility to others by virtue of invisible social forces (e.g., a market's "invisible hand"); (3) a more inclusive form of nationhood that goes beyond the usual strategies related to nationalism and cultural uniformity; (4) democratizing democracy by empowering people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives; and, (5) restoring an ethical basis for politics so that all social institutions are changed from instruments of power to mediators of social justice. The central objective in this multifaceted project is to humanize globalization in such a way that all social participants become the protagonists and beneficiaries of this process.


Sociology, Theory and Methods

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