Origins of the Mass Party: Dispossession and the Party-Form in Mexico and Bolivia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


This book argues that the mass party emerged as the product of two distinct but related “primitive accumulations”-the dismantling of communal land tenure and the corresponding dispossession of the means of local administration. It illustrates this argument by studying the party central to one of the longest regimes of the 20th century-the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Mexico, which emerged as a mass party during the 1930s and 1940s. I place the PRI in comparative perspective, studying the failed emergence of Bolivia’s Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) (1952-64), attempted under similar conditions as the Mexican case. Why was party emergence successful in one case but not the other? The PRI emerged as a mass party in areas in Mexico where land privatization was more intensive and communal village government was weakened, enabling the party’s construction and subsequent absorption of peasant unions and organizations. Ultimately, the overall strength of communal property-holding and concomitant traditional political authority structures blocked the emergence of the MNR as a mass party. Where economic and political expropriation was more pronounced, there was a critical mass of individuals available for political organization, with articulatable interests, and a burgeoning cast of professional politicians that facilitated connections between the party and the peasantry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOrigins of the Mass Party
Subtitle of host publicationDispossession and the Party-Form in Mexico and Bolivia in Comparative Perspective
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages198
ISBN (Electronic)9780197576502
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Articulation
  • Bolivia
  • Dispossession
  • Gramsci
  • Land tenure
  • MNR
  • Mexico
  • PRI
  • Parties
  • Primitive accumulation
  • Revolutions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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