Political sociologists have emphasized that contentious political action typically draws upon relatively stable scripts, or repertoires of practices, for the enactment of claims making. But if political repertoires tend to be reproduced over time, why and how do new ones emerge? With this theoretical question in mind, I develop an historical explanation for the initial formulation and use of a new repertoire of political practices—what I call populist mobilization—in early twentieth century Latin America. Peru’s 1931 presidential election provided the context for what was arguably Latin America’s first episode of sustained, large-scale populist mobilization. I argue that an adequate explanation of this moment of new repertoire emergence requires both structural and eventful analysis. Structural conditions made the new political practice viable at this particular historical juncture; but a new repertoire would not have emerged without the strategic vision and creative action of political leaders who found themselves navigating complex problem situations.
Rob Jansen a comparative-historical sociologist with substantive interests in politics and culture. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA in 2009. Rob is currently working on a book manuscript on Latin American populism and has published previously in the American Journal of Sociology, Theory & Society, and Sociological Theory.
Joel Stillerman. Sociology, x1-3129, firstname.lastname@example.org