Rethinking Working-class Politics: Organising Informal Workers in Argentina


  • Maisa Bascuas University of Buenos Aires
  • Ruth Felder Ontario Tech University
  • Ana Logiudice University of Buenos Aires
  • Viviana Patroni York University



Our article engages with discussions about the implications of precarious work and its impact on workers’ capacity to organise by analysing the case of Argentina’s Confederation of Popular Economy Workers (CTEP, Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular). The organisation was created in 2011 with the aim of representing a broad and heterogeneous group of workers in varying conditions of informality, precarious self-employment and workfare programmes. We trace the history of the organisation and analyse its development by focusing on the role of social assistance as a crucial expression of the changing relations between precarious workers and the state. Social assistance has provided some resources for addressing the reproduction needs of precarious workers and of the territories in which they live, and also the material means through which an organisation like CTEP has sought to consolidate its political work among precarious workers. Nonetheless, social assistance has also worked as a means to circumscribe broader demands for change into issues to be addressed through social policy. Our argument is that central to CTEP’s trajectory as an organisation of precarious workers was its attempt to break away from the narrow confines of social assistance, pushing for changes that would allow its members to gain some autonomy both materially and institutionally.

KEYWORDS: Argentina; precarious worker organisations; CTEP; social assistance policy

Author Biographies

Maisa Bascuas, University of Buenos Aires

Maisa Bascuas is a popular feminism activist. She holds a degree in Political Science and teaches at the University of Buenos Aires, the National University of General Sarmiento and the Latin American Program of Distance Education in Social Science (PLED). She is a researcher affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean of the University of Buenos Aires, the Open Memory Archive (Argentina) and the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research. She has published on the state, public policies, Latin American feminism and feminist popular economies.

Ana Logiudice, University of Buenos Aires

Ana Logiudice teaches at the Social Science and Psychology Faculty at the University of Buenos Aires and is a researcher affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean of the same university. Her work focuses on social assistance policies in Argentina since the 1990s, particularly in relation to changing forms of government intervention, the configuration of labour markets and the strategies of working class organizations and social movements in the country.

Viviana Patroni, York University

Viviana Patroni is an associate professor in the Department of Social Science at York University. Her research focuses on the political economy of Latin America, the transformation of the world of work in this region since the 1980s, the centrality of labour struggles in shaping patterns of development and the transformation of labour markets in Argentina since the 1990s.