Peace-building and business elites in Guatemala and El Salvador: explaining the discursive ‘institutional turn’

 Guest lecture by professor Benedicte Bull from the Centre of Development and the Environment (SUM).

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Benedicte Bull. Photo: UiO


The local business elites of El Salvador were generally in favour of the peace agreement and supported its negotiation and implementation in 1992, while in Guatemala the private sector reluctantly supported the peace process and, after the peace agreements were signed in 1996, the private sector sought to obstruct parts of its implementation.

In the aftermath of the peace accords, business elites united around an ideology espousing a minimal state and a focus on market solutions to social problems. Although welcoming the security-related measures in the peace accords, business elites have often obstructed transformations towards more inclusive and democratic societies.

However, in recent years there has been a change in discourse among influential business associations towards recognition of the need for strong state institutions and the need for institutionalised mechanisms for dialogue to find solutions to social problems. In this article, we seek to shed light on the significance of this discursive turn for continued peace-building. The article is published on Taylor & Francis Online: Peace-building and business elites in Guatemala and El Salvador: explaining the discursive explaining the discursive ‘institutional turn’ by Benedicte Bull & Mariel Aguilar-Støen.

Bulls research focus

Benedicte Bulls research addresses three topics:  1) how changing global power relations are influencing the evolution of state capacity in Latin America, something that she studies through how they change the relationship between local elites; 2) Private companies role in multilateral organizations (for example the UN) in the context of a new global political economy; and 3) National and international elite networks, with a focus on Central America.

She has previously led a project on the strategies of Central American business groups in a globalized economy, and one about the impact of elite-change on environmental politics in Latin America. Before that, she researched the role of private companies in UN organizations and multilateral banks. A main reason for her interest in the relationship between elites and institutions is its impact on social and economic inequality.

Published Oct. 28, 2019 4:32 PM - Last modified Oct. 28, 2019 4:32 PM