Tracing Social Movements' Influence Beyond Agenda-Setting: Waves of Protest, Chaining Mechanisms and Policy Outcomes in the Chilean Student Movement (2006-2018)


The literature on social movements' policy outcomes agrees on the need for an intertemporal perspective that goes beyond a short-term action-reaction logic to account for the effects of mobilization on policies. However, little attention has been given to the causal mechanisms that link different waves of mobilization with related policy outcomes over time. To do so, we propose the concept of chaining mechanisms as a means to connect different iterations of protest, electoral cycles and policy responses within a mid-term perspective. We distinguish between two types of chaining mechanisms, strategic and inertial, and apply this conceptual framework to the Chilean student movement in the 2006 and 2018 period. We assert that its success in chaining different waves of protest is a crucial factor in accounting for the recent major education reform that took place under Bachelet's government (2014-2018). Beyond the case, the concept contributes to the understanding of the complex interactions between social mobilization and public policy.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v14i3p1057

Keywords: Chaining mechanisms; Chile; Latin America; Policy reforms; Social movements' outcomes


Amenta, E. (2014), “How to Analyze the Influence of Movements”, Contemporary Sociology, 43(1): 16-29.

Amenta, E., Caren, N., Chiarello, E. and Y. Su (2010), “The Political Consequences of Social Movements”, Annual Review of Sociology, 36(1): 287-307.

Ancelovici, M. and Guzmán-Concha, C. (2019). Struggling for education: The dynamics of student protests in Chile and Quebec. Current Sociology, 67(7), 978–996.

Andrews, K.T. (1997), “The Impacts of Social Movements on the Political Process: The Civil Rights Movement and Black Electoral Politics in Mississippi”, American Sociological Review, 62(5): 800-819.

Andrews, K.T. (2001), “Social Movements and Policy Implementation: The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty, 1965 to 1971”, American Sociological Review, 66(1), 71-95.

Beach, D. (2016), “It’s all about mechanisms – what process-tracing case studies should be tracing”, New Political Economy, 21(5): 463-472.

Bellei, C., C. Cabalin (2013), “Chilean Student Movements: Sustained Struggle to Transform a Market-oriented Educational System”, Current Issues in Comparative Education, 15(2), 108-123.

Bellei, C., Cabalin, C. and V. Orellana (2014), “The 2011 Chilean student movement against neoliberal educational policies”, Studies in Higher Education, 39(3), 426-440.

Bidegain, G. (2015), Autonomización de Los Movimientos Sociales e Intensificación de La Protesta: Estudiantes y Mapuches En Chile (1990-2013), PhD Dissertation, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Bidegain, G. (2017), “Cada vez más lejos: la autonomización partidaria de los movimientos sociales en Chile 1990-2014”, in Luna, J.P. and R. Mardones (eds.), La Columna Vertebral Fracturada: Revisitando Intermediarios Políticos En Chile, Santiago: Ril editores, pp. 201–230.

Bidegain, G. and von Bülow, M. (2021), “Student Movements in Latin America”, in Bada, X. and Rivera Sánchez, L. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Latin America. New York, NY, Oxford University Press, pp. 357-372.

Bosi, L. (2016), “Social movements and interrelated effects: the process of social change in the post-movement lives of provisional IRA volunteers”, Revista Internacional de Sociología, 74(4): e047.

Bosi, L., Giugni, M. and Uba, K. (2016), The Consequences of Social Movements, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Bosi, L., K. Uba (2009), “Introduction: The Outcomes of Social Movements”, Mobilization, 14(4), 409-415.

Carimán Linares, B. (2014), “Reforma Educacional en Chile, Miedo y Hegemonía”, Políticas Públicas, 7(2): 3-12.

Chabanet, D., M. Giugni (2010), “Les Conséquences Des Mouvements Sociaux”, in Filleule, O., Agrikoliansky, É. and Sommier, I. (Eds.), Penser Les Mouvements Sociaux. Conflits Sociaux et Contestationes Dans Les Sociétés Contemporaines, La Découverte, France, pp. 146-161.

Della Porta, D. (2008), “Eventful Protest, Global Conflicts”, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 9(2): 27-56.

Della Porta, D., Andretta, M., Fernandes, T., Romanos, E. and M. Vogiatzoglou (2018), Legacies, Memories, and Social Movements: Justice and Democracy in Southern Europe, New York: Oxford University Press.

Disi Pavlic, R. (2018). Sentenced to debt: Explaining student mobilization in chile. Latin American Research Review, 53(3), 448-465.

Donoso, S. (2013), “Dynamics of Change in Chile: Explaining the Emergence of the 2006 Pingüino Movement”, Journal of Latin American Studies, 45(1), 1-29.

Donoso, S. (2017), “‘Outsider’ and ‘Insider’ Strategies: Chile’s Student Movement, 1990–2014”, in von Bülow, M. and S. Donoso (eds.), Social Movements in Chile: Organization, Trajectories, and Consequences, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 65–97.

Donoso, S., and Somma, N. M. (2019). “You Taught us to Give an Opinion, Now Learn How to Listen”: The Manifold Political Consequences of Chile’s Student Movement. In M. Arce and R. Rice (Eds.), Protest and Democracy (pp. 145–172)

Gamboa, R. and Segovia, C. (2016). Chile 2015: Falla política, desconfianza y reforma. Revista de Ciencia Politica, 36(1), 123–144.

García Castillo, L.F. (2019), Origen de Los Partidos Políticos En El Contexto Político Chileno Reciente (2010-2017) : El Caso de Revolución Democrática, MA dissertation, Universidad de Chile, Chile.

George A.L., A. Bennett (2005) Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Mit Pr.

Giugni, M. (2004), Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology, Antinuclear, and Peace Movements in Comparative Perspective, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Giugni, M., Mcadam, D. and C. Tilly. (1999), How Social Movements Matter, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Guzmán-Concha, C. (2017), “Introduction: Student Movements and Political Change in Contemporary Latin America”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 36(2): 141-143.

Hedström, P., R. Swedberg (1998), Social Mechanisms: An Analytical Approach to Social Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hernes, G. (1998), “Real virtuality”, in Hedström, P. and Swedberg, R. (eds.), Social Mechanisms an Analytical Approach to Social Theory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 74-101.

King, G., Bentele, K., Soule, S. 2007. “Protest and Policymaking: Explaining Fluctuation in Congressional Attention to Rights Issues, 1960-1986.” Social Forces 86(1): 137-163.

Kolb, F. (2007), Protest and Opportunities: The Political Outcomes of Social Movements, New York: Campus Verlag, Frankfurt.

Kubal, M.R., E. Fisher (2016), “The Politics of Student Protest and Education Reform in Chile: Challenging the Neoliberal State”, The Latin Americanist, 60(2): 217-242.

López Leyva, M.A. (2012), “Los movimientos sociales y su influencia en el ciclo de las políticas públicas”, Región y Sociedad, XXIV(55): 159-197.

McAdam, D., W.H. Sewell (2001), “It’s About Time: Temporality in the Study of Social Movements and Revolutions”, in Aminzade, R.R., Goldstone, J.A., McAdam, D., Perry, E.J., Sewell, W.H., Tarrow, S. and C. Tilly (eds.), Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics, NY: Cambridge University Press, pp. 89-125.

Meyer, D., Minkoff, D. 2004. “Conceptualizing Political Opportunity.” Social Forces 82(4): 1457-92

Ministerio de Educación. (2017), “Reforma Educacional. Cuenta Pública 2014-2017”, Ministerio de Educación.

Moore, A. (2011), “The Eventfulness of Social Reproduction”, Sociological Theory, 29(4): 294-314.

Olavarria-Gambi, M. (2016), “Agenda and Public Policy: Evidence From Chile”, International Journal of Public Administration, 39(2): 157-172.

Olivares L., A. and Carrasco-Hidalgo, C. (2020). Social Movements and Public Policies in Chile: Analysis of the Student Movement of 2011 and the No+AFP movement of 2016. Romanian Political Science Review, XX(2), 203–222.

Palacios-Valladares, I. (2017), “Internal Movement Transformation and the Diffusion of Student Protest i

n Chile”, Journal of Latin American Studies, 49(3): 579–607.

Paredes, J. P. (2019). De la Revolución Pingüina a la arena de la gratuidad. Balance de 10 años de luchas estudiantiles en Chile (2007-2017). In R. Diéz García and G. Betancour Nuez (Eds.), Movimientos sociales, acción colectiva y cambio social en perspectiva (pp. 133–148). Betiko.

Pierson, P. (2004), Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Polletta, F. (2006), It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Seawright, J., J. Gerring (2008), “Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options”, Political Research Quarterly, 61(2), 294-308.

Sewell, W.H. (1996), “Historical events as transformations of structures: Inventing revolution at the Bastille”, Theory and Society, 25(6): 841-881.

Silva, E. (2015), “Social Movements, Protest, and Policy”, ERLACS, 100: 27-39.

Somma, N.M. (2012), “The Chilean student movement of 2011-2012: challenging the marketization of education”, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, 4(2): 296-309.

Tarrow, S.G. (2011), Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, V. (1989), “Social Movement Continuity: The Women’s Movement in Abeyance”, American Sociological Review, 54(5): 761-775.

Tilly, C. (2002), Stories, Identities, and Political Change, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Tricot, T. (2012), “Movimiento de estudiantes en Chile: Repertorios de acción colectiva ¿algo nuevo?”, Revista F@ro, 15.

Uba, K. (2009), “The Contextual Dependence of Movement Outcomes: A Simplified Meta-Analysis”, Mobilization 14(4):433 – 448.

von Bülow, M., G. Bidegain (2015), “It Takes Two to Tango: Students, Political Parties and Protest in Chile (2005-2013)”, in Almeida, P.D. and A. Cordero Ulate (eds.), Handbook of Social Movements Across Latin America, New York: Springer, pp. 179-194.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.