Date of Award

Spring 5-2007

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines the processes of identity construction and deployment among Uruguayan women and organized women’s groups. I employ narrative analysis and process tracing methodology to analyze the question of why attempts to create multi-racial gender coalitions are frequently unsuccessful among Uruguayan women’s groups. I find that identity is constructed differently for women along the lines of race and class, even in a South American setting where racial attributes are supposedly of little import. These competing identities result in conflicts among the gender-based organizations that women form; as a consequence there is a reduction in coalition possibilities for otherwise similarly oriented women’s groups. I find that each group has distinct ideological conceptions of the salience of race and class to gender mobilization and these divergent ideological conceptions have had a direct impact on each organization’s willingness to coalesce with other local women’s groups. My research contributes an important component to the identity and social movements literature. The literature on identity politics and coalition formation is largely theoretical in nature. Much of the empirical literature on coalition formation highlights political and structural variables such as threat, resources, and political opportunities, and considers identity differences tangentially or not at all. My research combines these two approaches to present an empirical case study that specifies the relationship between identity politics and coalition politics. I highlight ideology, which is a key understudied variable. I find that ideological differences often impede coalition formation, and that this relationship holds variety of issue areas and types. I also find that political strategy is of central importance to coalition formation. Specifically, it may function separately from, or in collusion with, ideological differences in constraining or fostering coalition formation.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Sunita Parikh

Committee Members

Lisa Baldez, Andrea Friedman, Gerald N. Izenberg, Mona Lena Krook, Guillermo Rosas, Andrew Sobel


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Copyright © 2007 Erica E. Townsend-Bell