Accepted paper:

A radical nobility: intellectuals and university reform in Bolivarian Venezuela


Mariya Ivancheva (University of Liverpool)

Paper short abstract:

The study explores the institutionalization of the former student movement during Venezuela's liberal democracy (1958-1998) as part of the state administration and the Bolivarian government.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I discuss the positions and trajectories that constitute and are constituted by Venezuela's Bolivarian higher education field. In 2003 instead of reforming traditional universities, the Bolivarian government established new parallel structures of higher education. New educators and students, first generation into higher education entered and got new chance to take part in academic knowledge production. Yet, while educational stratification has remained dependent on evaluation by traditional intellectuals, hostile to the Bolivarian government, a peculiar privilege remains constant within its new higher education field. A group, which I call "the radical nobility" is endowed with the double capital of radical and academic credentials. . They come from the former student movements during Venezuela's liberal democracy (1958-1998). Combined with their radical past, their academic credentials from times when education was exclusive form a new source of distinction: "revolutionary capital". This form of symbolic capital conceals a specific hierarchical power relation which reproduces the old inequalities within a strict economic hierarchy. Comparing education and social status, material wealth, life-standards, and chances at the job market, the members of the radical nobility score above the new Bolivarian educators. All of them are better off than UBV's students and recent graduates. Regarded as low-skill professionals even within the public sector, for the latter the study at UBV has meant dignity and empowerment but no real job chances or social mobility.

panel IP08
The institutionalization of revolutionary movements: ethnographic case studies