Guzman, Sebastian G.

Sebastian GuzmanPhD candidate, The New School for Social Research
Expected completion: Spring 2014

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Dissertation Title
"To Pay or to Protest: Consent and Resistance to Social Housing Debt in Chile"

Areas of Expertise
Political Sociology, Urban and Labor Movements, Class and Inequality, Social Theory.

My research focuses on how political and class subjectivities are produced and how these subjectivities relate to political and economic action that reproduces or challenges inequality, especially (but not only) in Latin America. I use qualitative, historical, and qualitative methods to address these questions.

Dissertation Abstract
My dissertation is an ethnography of low-income housing debtors in Chile, some of whom have sustained a six-year mortgage strike demanding that the state cancel their debt, while others continue to pay in spite of a moratorium on foreclosures. I explain how debtors’ motivations to consent or resist debt payment are produced in their lived experience by comparing debtors with different behaviors in a similar situation in a Santiago housing development. I analyze how debtors negotiate meanings with the state, banks, and social movement organizations in various processes: the politicization of debt, making sense of misinformation and counter-information, maintaining or changing expectations, and normalizing or breaking the normalization of debt payment. I also discuss some challenges faced by debtors’ organizations: first, in relying on true and false incentives for members only, rather than on solidarity, to motivate participation; second, in pushing the movement to broaden the demands and embrace class-struggle politics in a context of scarce resources and pervasive political clientelism. I conclude with a “meso-cultural and motivated reasoning” explanation of consent and resistance: people do what they consider in their own interests, but the factual beliefs, expectations, emotions, justifications, and apparent choices change with group-level “meso cultures” and efforts to validate interpretations that provide hopes and feelings of agency—of course, affected by macro-level factors such as “macro culture” and material inducements by the state. Much of the state’s, SMOs’, and individuals’ agency lies in changing these group-level “meso cultures” and people's motivations for reaching certain conclusions in their reasoning.

Teaching Experience
Lecturer: “Political Sociology,” CUNY Hunter College, Sociology Department (Fall 2010); “Models of Conflict Mediation” and “Clinical Practice in Social Conflict Mediation,” Universidad de Chile, Sociology Department, Diploma in Social Conflict Mediation (Winter 2005-Summer 2006); “Leadership Styles, Participation, and Democracy in Social Organizations.” Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano and Programa de Economía del Trabajo, Diploma in Formation of Local Development Leaders (Spring 2004).

Teaching Assistant: “Logic of Inquiry,” Prof. Rachel Sherman, New School for Social Research, Sociology Department (Fall 2011); “Quantitative Methods,” Prof. Richard Hendra, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy (Fall 2008); “Sociology,” Prof. Darío Rodríguez, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Sociology Department (Fall 2001-Fall 2004).

Selected Publications
2013" Reasons and the Acceptance of the Authoritative Speech: An Empirically-Grounded Synthesis of Habermas and Bourdieu.” Sociological Theory 31(3): 267-289. 

Forthcoming. “Substantive-Rational Authority: The Missing Fourth Pure Type in Weber’s Typology of Legitimate Domination.” Journal of Classical Sociology.

Writing Sample
“‘Should I Trust the Bank or the Social Movement?’ Constraints to Counter-Framing and Debtors’ ‘Work’ to Believe Misinformation.” Manuscript being prepared for submission (based on dissertation chapter).

Ideology and Movement Militancy against Partisan Allies: Evidence from Strikes in Post-Authoritarian Chile.” Under review.

Contact Information
Sebastian Guzman
Department of Sociology
The New School for Social Research
6 East 16th St, 9th floor
New York, NY 10003

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