This article explores how the Chilean state identified and categorized working men, women, and children during the Great Depression. Ideas of “employable” and “unemployable” as well as “deserving” and “undeserving” poor influenced how the government distributed relief, organized public-work projects, and eventually dismantled its emergency programs in 1932–34. But this was not an uncontested process. This article also sheds light on working families’ demands and how they shaped welfare policies and limited the state’s ability to influence and transform society. This article is based on archival documentation from Chile’s Department of Labor and local governments as well as memoirs, theses, and articles written by relief workers.
Identifying the Unemployed: Social Categories and Relief in Depression-Era Chile (1930–1934)
ÁNGELA VERGARA is a professor of history at California State University Los Angeles. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in history at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago (1994) and her PhD at the University of California, San Diego (2002). Her research focuses on Chile’s modern social and labor history. She is the author of Copper Workers, International Business, and Domestic Politics in Cold War Chile (2008) and coeditor of Company Towns in the Americas (2011) and the special issue of Radical History Review, “The Other 9/11: Chile 1973 — Memory, Resistance, and Democratization” (2016). In her current book project, she examines the experiences of working people with unemployment, job insecurity, and layoffs in twentieth- century Chile.
Ángela Vergara; Identifying the Unemployed: Social Categories and Relief in Depression-Era Chile (1930–1934). Labor 1 September 2018; 15 (3): 9–30. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-6910173
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