Assemblies of the Desocupados on the Southern Outskirts of Buenos Aires

Special Report: Ethnographies of Participation
Anchoring the Political in Daily Life
By Pia V. Rius

Unemployed workers’ organizations (MTD – Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados) on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, have been functioning on the basis of their assemblies. Their ethnographic description allows an articulation of their decisions about ways to live together that occur both in the public sphere and behind the scenes. Observing food distribution means witnessing how trust among members and delegates’ credibility is challenged by publicity. Ethnography also reveals how participants legitimize their arguments towards their families or lean upon the assembly to criticize social policies with their neighbors. An exchange of arguments in participatory assemblies cannot be understood if unbound from local practices.


  • unemployed workers’ organizations
  • assemblies
  • social policies
  • rumor
  • clientelism
  • Argentina
  • ethnography
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