Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Assessing the Impacts of Liberation Theology in Latin America


This article examines the nature and impact of liberation theology in Latin America and considers prospects for the future. Liberation theology's fundamental ideas are explored, and the reasons for its emergence and appeal are considered in detail. As a system of ideas, liberation theology first appears during a period of great social change, ecclesiological debate, and political upheaval. The convergence of these elements helps explain the theology's appeal within the churches, makes sense of its characteristically activist identification with the poor, and helps account for the popular appeal of the new organizational structures it has inspired. These convergences also suggest possible constraints and the long-term political impact of this theology. Throughout the article I argue that analysis of impacts must go beyond the ideas of liberation theology to ask how and why such ideas are received and acted upon in concrete settings.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Religion and Politics in Comparative and Historical Perspective,” Comparative Politics 19, no. 1 (101986): 95122

Holiness, Faith, Power, Politics,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 26, no. 4 (121987): 551–61.

Michael Dodson , “Liberation Theology and Christian Radicalism in Contemporary Latin America,"Journal of Latin American Studies, 11, no. 1 (051979): 203222.

Enrique Baloyra , “Reactionary Despotism in Central America,"Journal of Latin American Studies 15, no. 2 (111983): 295319.

W. E. Hewitt , “Strategies for Social Change Employed by Comunidades Eclesiaes de Base (CEB’s) in the Archiodese of Sâo Paulo,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 25, no. 1 (031986): 1630;

Levine , “Colombia: The Institutional church and the Popular"; “Religion and Politics: Dimensions of Renewal,” Thought 59 (061984): 117–42;

Scott Mainwaring , “The Catholic Church, Popular Education, and Political Change in Brazil,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 26, no. 1 (021984): 92125

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Review of Politics
  • ISSN: 0034-6705
  • EISSN: 1748-6858
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 46 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 368 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.