Civil indignation in Chile: Recent collusion scandals in the retail industry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The inherent tensions between capitalism and democracy are examined in two recent scandals of collusion in the retail industry in Chile. One case involves the collusion among pharmacy chains to increase the retail prices of key medications and the other the collusion among tissue paper manufacturers to increase the price of tissue paper products. The chapter analyses the civil reactions to the scandals including in the streets, the media, and the law. The analysis makes three contributions. Firstly, it advances Civil Sphere Theory (CST) by exploring the boundary relationship between the market and the civil sphere, a relationship not studied in The Civil Sphere. The concept of “interstitial institution” is offered to further understand this relationship. Secondly, it examines the applicability of CST beyond the U.S.A. The binaries in CST are historically contingent and informed by the liberal ethos of the American civil sphere. The chapter shows that CST’s binary codes for relationships, motives, and institutions do apply in Chile. At the same time, Chile’s civil sphere displays features that are specific to the country. Chile’s civil sphere exhibits universalistic traits while mobilising historically specific, socio-cultural content. Thirdly, the chapter offers a theoretical challenge to one influential conception of culture and social integration in Chile and Latin America.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Civil Sphere in Latin America
EditorsJeffrey C. Alexander, Carlo Tognato
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781108685245
ISBN (Print)9781108426831, 9781108445870
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • civil society
  • civil sphere theory
  • Chile
  • scandals
  • protest
  • culture
  • consumers
  • neoliberalism
  • capitalism
  • democracy
  • collusion


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