Ideology and Social Improvement in Bolivia during the 20th Century


  • Brian Norris George Washington University



Catholic Credit Cooperatives, Christianity, Evangelical Protestantism, Literacy, Social Improvement, Neoliberalism, Vatican II Reforms


This essay relates improvements in social indicators in Bolivia during the Twentieth Century to ideological changes during the same period. During the Twentieth Century, most social indicators improved dramatically in Bolivia. Separately, scholars have vigorously debated ideologies, such as neoliberalism and its macroeconomic competitors, and the potential social impact of these ideologies. Despite the separate emphases on ideas and social outcomes, no systematic attempt has been made by scholars of Bolivia to link long–term ideological change to long–term social improvement in the country. This essay argues that it is probable that such a relationship exists, but it is important to consider mass ideology, which affects the whole of Bolivian society, in addition to elite ideology, which affects a much more limited portion of society.