UCĀ²: University Community Conversation

Augusto De Venanzi

Augusto De VenanziConflicting Understandings of Democracy: Political Polarization in Venezuela under President Chávez

Augusto De Venanzi, Professor of Sociology

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Since Hugo Chávez’s rise to the presidency, Venezuela has become a deeply divided country. The ensuing polarization has been expressed in violent forms of political fanaticism; in the partisan fracture of many professional and labor associations and the army as well as in open warfare between private and public media outlets; in the weakening of the private sector of the economy; and in the erosion of sociability. In his lecture, De Venanzi attempted to explain the causes of such a high degree of polarization using two main hypotheses. First, Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution" possesses two distinct faces: an authoritarian face and a welfare face. Second, the difficult coexistence of these two faces accounts for the high degree of political polarization. De Venanzi showed that the contrasting perspectives Venezuelans hold in relation to the "Bolivarian Revolution" are closely related to their divergent views regarding the meaning and practice of democracy.

About Our Lecturer:

Augusto De Venanzi, Professor of Sociology, has taught at IPFW since 2005. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, De Venanzi received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Surrey (UK).

De Venanzi has worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program, and he has taught at Central University of Venezuela and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also a Fulbright scholar at the University of Maryland in 2003-2004.

His publications concern issues of poverty, marginalization, and social policy across time and space. He has published books and articles internationally. His article “The Concept of Poverty in Latin American Sociology: The Case of Venezuela” won the Outstanding Research Award from Central University of Venezuela in 1999.

Printable flier for De Venanzi's event (PDF)

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