Protest Organisation and Protest Actors: The Case of the Popular Front Francisco Villa.
For the last three decades, organizations and social movements have been key 'actors' in the democratization of the political system in Mexico and in its general process of transition towards democracy. These changes have been accompanied by a significant increase in studies researching civil society forms of mobilization and impacts in politics and ranging from explorations of organizational dynamics to studies on specific protest episodes. The Frente Popular Francisco Villa (henceforth PFFV) - an organization that can be included into the broader set of organizations and social movements that belong to the Urban Popular Movement in Mexico - has had an important role in contentious politics. However, despite the sociological and political richness of the case, few studies have investigated it specifically. In general, the existing research does not offer any thick, historical description of the specific features of the Popular Front, such as its forms of community organizing, the key elements of its organizational culture, or its methods and strategies of protest and contention. This dissertation aims to shed light on the internal mechanisms that have steered the dynamics and changes of this organization and of its recent inclusion as a political actor in the institutional framework of politics.
Furthermore, although most research so far has been dominated by an 'actor-based model' of social movements, this dissertation shifts the focus from actor and agency and draws heavily on social systems theory to explore those key phenomena in the social movement's organization. The focus of the research is the internal dynamics that have steered the Popular Front as a protest organization and propelled internal changes in key ways. The main objectives that led this specific analysis are 1) to uncover the main processes and structures that regulate the PFFV's internal dynamic and changes over time and in different dimensions; 2) to analyze the relationships of these changes with the features and requirements of several organizations and actors in the PFFV's environment, and 3) to find out how broader processes (such as the political system or the culture) had an impact on these internal changes.
It is a study that on the one hand contributes to the existing knowledge regarding the social and political history of the actors and organizations under analysis and on the other hand provides empirical evidence and theoretical insights to the field of social movement studies.