Cultures and Knowledge Workshop Reading List: "Democracy at Stake: Middle Class Ambivalence in Manila"

March 4th, 2021

On March 8, the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge will present the fourth in their Cultures and Knowledge Workshop series for the Winter Term. This workshop, titled "Democracy at Stake: Middle Class Ambivalance in Manila," will be presented by Professor Marco Garrido.


The Filipino middle class was the leading group behind democratization in Manila at the end of the 20th century, helping bring about the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. In 2016, however, the upper and middle class largely voted for Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s most anti-democratic president since Marcos, and continued to support him even after his autocratic tendencies became apparent. Ironically, Filipinos’ satisfaction with democracy hit an all-time high following Duterte’s election—86 percent in 2016, compared to an average of 51 percent between the years 1991 and 2015. To illuminate the causes of democratic backsliding in the Philippines (and implications for other middle-income developing countries), Marco Garrido’s research articulates a peculiar vision of democracy and uncovers its origins. He provides a thick description of the experience of Filipino democracy, examining its underlying social contexts interests, and sensibilities. This presentation will include survey data on attitudes towards democracy in the Philippines, clarifying the nature of the illiberal turn, and proposing a set of fieldwork-based hypotheses. Joins us to discuss structural and temporal explanations of democracy as disorder and as an experience of “unsettled times.”

About the presenter: Marco Garrido's research focuses on the relationship between the urban poor and middle class in Manila as located in slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He is the author of The Patchwork City.

Below is a list of further reading on the topic of the workshop, compiled by Dr. Garrido:


Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (New Press)
Arlie Russell Hochschild

When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, a bewildered nation turned
to Strangers in Their Own Land to understand what Trump voters were thinking when they cast their ballots. Arlie Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, had spent the preceding five years immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Tea Party stronghold. As Jedediah Purdy put it in the New Republic, “Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [Her] attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochchild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.” Already a favorite common read book in communities and on campuses across the country and called “humble and important” by David Brooks and “masterly” by Atul Gawande, Hochschild’s book has been lauded by Noam Chomsky, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, and countless others.


The Patchwork City: Class, Space, and Politics in Metro Manila (University of Chicago Press)
Marco Garrido

In contemporary Manila, slums and squatter settlements are peppered throughout the city, often pushing right up against the walled enclaves of the privileged, creating the complex geopolitical pattern of Marco Z. Garrido’s “patchwork city.” Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a mélange of spaces defined by class, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He then looks beyond urban fragmentation to delineate its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of these slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity, compelling them to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of these boundaries creates a pervasive sense of discrimination. Class boundaries then sharpen along the housing divide, and the urban poor and middle class emerge not as labor and capital but as squatters and “villagers,” Manila’s name for subdivision residents. Garrido further examines the politicization of this divide with the case of the populist president Joseph Estrada, finding the two sides drawn into contention over not just the right to the city, but the nature of democracy itself.


The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (University of Chicago Press)
Katherine J. Cramer

Since the election of Scott Walker, Wisconsin has been seen as ground zero for debates about the appropriate role of government in the wake of the Great Recession. In a time of rising inequality, Walker not only survived a bitterly contested recall that brought thousands of protesters to Capitol Square, he was subsequently reelected. How could this happen? How is it that the very people who stand to benefit from strong government services not only vote against the candidates who support those services but are vehemently against the very idea of big government? With The Politics of Resentment, Katherine J. Cramer uncovers an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle: rural political consciousness and the resentment of the “liberal elite.” Rural voters are distrustful that politicians will respect the distinct values of their communities and allocate a fair share of resources. What can look like disagreements about basic political principles are therefore actually rooted in something even more fundamental: who we are as people and how closely a candidate’s social identity matches our own. Using Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s prominent and protracted debate about the appropriate role of government, Cramer illuminates the contours of rural consciousness, showing how place-based identities profoundly influence how people understand politics, regardless of whether urban politicians and their supporters really do shortchange or look down on those living in the country.


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