Department of Social Anthropology

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Space for Aspirations: Social Change and Nicaraguan Modernity in a Renewable Energy Company

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By: Sanne Kasin Antonsen Sánchez

Supervisor: Professor Andrew Lattas


The thesis explores common imageries and economic practice in the Nicaraguan middle sector. It detects four common ’categories of aspirations’ regarding economic enterprise. One is aspirations for long term orientation, continuity and consistency. The second is aspirations for’ good experience’ and the third for ’meriting’. The last category regards aspirations for balance between ’freedom’ and independence on one hand, and predictability  and stability on the other (both of which are often not achieved for the lower middle sector within one and only employment relation).

The economic actors’ aspirations in enterprise are here being analysed in the context of Nicaragua’s social organisation, political culture and discourses of modernity. Aspirations contrast with the social reality of patronage, authoritarianism, nepotism and tendencies of political caudillismo.  Economic enterprise is understood as the act of ’balancing’ aspirations, often done through combinations of employment and micro and small entrepreneurship.

The geothermal power company in which the fieldwork for this research was done, differs in various aspects form many other Nicaraguan working places, as it constitutes a ’space for aspirations’  for its middle sector employees. Both economic and organisational features (capital intensiveness, professional integrations and so forth) of the company makes it apt for pursuance of aspirations , here in larger degree taking place within this employment relation. Institutional ’space for aspirations’ – when ’wishing’ becomes ’doing’ through economic enterprise, is also a ’space for social change’. This ’space’ is seized, negotiated and maintained by the actors themselves, whose both self-conceptualisations and economic practice are changing.