Neoliberalism and Judicialization of Politics in Costa Rica, 1982-2002

My dissertation focuses on the rise of judicialization of politics and neoliberalism in Costa Rica between 1980 and 2002. I examine how the high volumes of legal complaints filed by workers in the 1990s were part of an incursion of neoliberal rationality to Costa Rica’s political life. My project challenges traditional analyses of the origins of the judicialization of politics by tying its formation to the implementation of neoliberal reforms in Latin America. I argue that under the neoliberal state, which favors strong individual rights, the rule of law, and the institutions of freely functioning markets and free trade, a new individualism flourished that disarticulated labor movements and their capacity and willingness to engage in collective action. Turning to methodological tools from digital history and linguistics, such as corpus analysis, to support the discovery of larger trends in large amounts of data, my research transforms the way we analyze court documents and ultimately the way social scientists do research.  Ultimately, by employing an interdisciplinary toolkit that ranges from legal studies and political science, to linguistics to media studies, I will contribute novel understandings for the way social scientists do research using a vast and diverse set of sources. These combined approaches will help me challenge traditional notions about neoliberal reforms and reposition the study of the working class and its relationship to the state apparatus during twentieth-century Latin America and beyond.