James D. Bowen, "Multicultural Market Democracy: Elites and Indigenous Movements in Contemporary Ecuador." Journal of Latin American Studies 43, 3 (2011): 451-483.
This paper bridges the gap between studies of subaltern social movements and elite politics by asking how political and economic elites respond to indigenous mobilisation in Ecuador. I argue that elites have developed a hegemonic project based around three core principles – multiculturalism, economic liberalism and democracy – that serves to incorporate indigenous peoples into the political system while simultaneously excluding indigenous movement demands that would undermine the political and economic sources of elite power. The paper develops this argument around a concept of what I call ‘multicultural market democracy’ based on historical analysis and in-depth interviews with 43 Ecuadorian elites.
Bowen bases his work on Collier and Collier's influential Shaping the Political Arena, which focuses on the dynamics of labor incorporation into the state to explain political change. He argues that indigenous incorporation is now undergoing a similar process. The bottom line:
After over two decades of continuous organising and frequent mobilisation, indigenous peoples have been incorporated largely into the Ecuadorian political system. Incorporation, however, has come at a price. The principles of multicultural market democracy have proven quite useful to a diverse group of elites (with equally diverse interests) when confronted by the alternative political-economic projects presented by indigenous movements. Even the current president, Rafael Correa (generally considered part of the wave of ‘new Left’ leaders in the region), follows a similar script.
Ecuador, and now increasingly Bolivia as well, has been hard to characterize despite media efforts to make it into a caricature. Even when presidents are sympathetic, state-indigenous relations can still involve friction and discrimination. This article presents a particularly pessimistic view, showing how indigenous groups have become more influential yet there are clear limits to that influence depending on what type of redistributive project they have in mind. Fair enough, though it is also useful to view them in comparative historical terms, as indigenous rights have come a very long way in the past several decades.