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Arturo Alvarado

El Colegio de México
The political economy of crime and its impact on democratic governance in Latin America
01 September 2020 -
30 June 2021

Arturo Alvarado was trained as a sociologist with a Ph. D. from El Colegio de México. He has been an active faculty member of El Colegio de México and was director of the Center for Sociological Studies until 2018. He has dedicated much of his career to studying human rights, justice, urban governance and democracy in Latin America.

Research Interests

Crime, Organized crime and Governance in Latin America.

The political economy of crime and its impact on democratic governance in Latin America

Latin América is experiencing a crisis of security marked not only by the highest homicides rates in the world, but by other complex forms of organized violence. No government has been able to stop or eradicate the transgressive wave of local and global crimes for more than two decades.

This research project proposes to analyze and explain the complex influence that a large number of criminal organizations have on the economy, the society, and the governments of Latin American cities and nations, as they are probably the main drivers of the current crisis of security and governance in several countries of the region. The impacts of transnational illicit economies will also be looked at.

This work is based on four initial ideas: first, the idea of the emergence of a class of criminal bosses occupying strong positions in the economies and political regimes of various countries in the region; second, the development of criminal behaviour (criminal interventions, attacks, corruption attempts) designed to erode and control the governance of states without destroying it; third, the idea that this dynamic and violent form of confrontation is eroding democracy; and, fourth, that to better understand these processes we need to rethink the way we have interpreted the erosion of democracy. This is a deep metamorphosis of the democratic governance and it also manifests the changing power relations between economic and state actors at different scales, national and transnational.


Key publications

Alvarado, Arturo, El tamaño del infierno : Un estudio sobre la criminalidad y en la Zona Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, Centro de Estudios Sociológicos, 2012, 565 p.

“Vidas Truncadas, el exceso de mortalidad en América Latina” “Truncated Lifes, a Study of the Excess Homicide Rates of Young Population on Latin America”. (2015).

Alvarado, Arturo, et al., Vidas Truncadas: El Exceso De Homicidios En La Juventud De América Latina, 1990-2010. Los Casos De Argentina, Brasil, Colombia Y México, Colegio De Mexico, 2015

Latest Publication:
Alvarado, Arturo, “Organizaciones criminales en América Latina: una discusión conceptual y un marco comparativo para su reinterpretación / Criminal organizations in Latin America: a comparative conceptual framework for its reinterpretation”, in Revista Brasileira de Sociologia-RBS, vol. 7, no 17., 2019

Workshop organized by Arturo Alvarado, 2020-2021 Paris IAS Fellow, with the support of the Paris Institute for Advanced Study
03 Jun 2021 14:00 -
03 Jun 2021 17:00,
Criminal Violence and Governance of Cities and Nations
12 Jan 2021 15:00 -
12 Jan 2021 18:00,
The political economy of crime and its impact on democratic governance in Latin America

Contemporary period (1789-…)
Central and South America