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Department of Geography Economic Geography

Publication: Uneven development in Argentina

Christian Berndt and Christin Bernhold have just published a new publication in Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie.

Berndt, C. and Bernhold, C. (2017) Lateinamerikanischer Neostrukturalismus: Sojaboom und wirtschaftliche Konzentration in Argentinien. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie (online first).

Abstract: Following the neostructuralist economic development agenda proposed by ECLAC and the rise to power of social-democratic governments during the 2000s, various Latin American countries implemented economic policies that promise both export-oriented economic growth and social inclusion. In  Argentina this is closely linked to the extraordinary boom in soybean production. Our paper critically analyses the Argentinian variant of neostructuralism, putting emphasis on the soy industry which accounts for an important part of the country’s economy. After discussing the neostructuralist economic development paradigm more generally, we analyse its particular application to Argentinian agribusiness. We do so by focusing on the social contradictions that arise from the policies of the Kirchner administrations. Conceptually we approach “sojicazión” in terms of agricultural policy, socioeconomic development, and its ideological-discursive quality. Among the key aspects of the soy boom we identify a far-reaching reconfiguration of production, economic concentration and financialization of Argentinian agriculture. We ask for the implications for everyday economic and social life in the Argentinian countryside and emphasize the radical revaluation of agricultural land. Here, developments include a far-reaching reordering of social structures in the agrarian heartland, increasingly precarious working conditions, and processes of violent dispossession in the northwestern Chaco region. We conclude that commodity-based neostructuralism in Argentina has not been able to deliver the type of socially inclusive growth promised by political elites. Rather, dominant actors that already profit most from agribusiness were able to further expand and consolidate their position in the South American country.