Having examined the main features of Latin America’s political economy we now turn to its society and the social patterns established between individuals, families and broader social groupings. We begin with some of the most salient social structures in Latin America that pattern the life of the individual and the family. These include social classes, of course, but also a range of other social divisions. People also form social relations based on gender and ‘ethnic-racial’ divisions as well as the ‘informal’ political relationships characteristic of patronage and the compadre (godfather and/or mate) systems. The social transformation of Latin America took place under the twin impacts of industrialization (as we saw in the previous chapter) and urbanization, which is examined here. Finally, this chapter examines the broad parameters of poverty and welfare in contemporary Latin America, which both constrain democratic development and are a measure of its success.
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