Journal of International and Global Studies


One of the fundamental tenets and practices of neoliberalism in Argentina was the withdrawal of the state from providing a range of social services to its citizens. The economic imperative of reducing spending coincided with an ideological push to limit the size of the state. Faith based organizations (FBOs) were among the actors who stepped in to fill the gap left by the retraction of services such as basic education and health care. In Argentina, the Catholic Church failed to offer opposition to years of military dictatorship but was effectively mobilized a decade later in resisting neoliberalism. This paper uses a case study of two faith based NGOs in northwestern Argentina in the late 1990s to consider some of the ways in which these organizations effectively became the primary social service agencies in remote rural communities. Drawing on the ideals of liberation theology, these FBOs went beyond providing services in poor communities to draw attention to the failure of the state to meet the needs of its people. Their status as religious organizations lent this critique a moral authority and legitimacy that the state itself, widely seen as uncaring and out of touch, lacked. This case study, based on over twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, illustrates how these moral voices came to be of central importance as Argentina’s neoliberal government unraveled.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.