The Labor Judge Unleashed: Rule of Law and Labor Rights in 'Neoliberal' Chile

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 26 Mar 2020

Date Written: November 28, 2017


Hoping to improve labor justice, some Latin American countries have reformed their labor courts without necessarily buttressing working-class power. Class power theories make us skeptical of these state-centric strategies for labor rights. Will the “rule-of-law” reforms work? This article reports ethnographic evidence collected by the author in the Chilean labor courts during 2009-2010, and secondary sources. It compares contemporary labor courts, reformed but in an otherwise “neoliberal” context, with the unreformed labor courts of the “socialist” years (1970-1972) to gauge the efficacy of rule-of-law reforms. Results show that despite the neoliberal context, the labor courts were more responsive to workers’ claims than under socialism. Rule of law and procedural rules matter for effective labor rights.

Keywords: labor courts, rule of law, Chile, neoliberalism, socialism

Suggested Citation

Rosado Marzán, César F., The Labor Judge Unleashed: Rule of Law and Labor Rights in 'Neoliberal' Chile (November 28, 2017). Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 43, Issue 4, 1574-1603, Fall 2018, Available at SSRN: or

César F. Rosado Marzán (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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