Theses defended

La vida y el tiempo: Apuntes para una teoría ucrónica de la vida buena a partir de la historia reciente del Ecuador

René Ramírez Gallegos

Public Defence date
February 15, 2019
Doctoral Programme
Labour Relations, Social Inequalities and Trade Unionism
Boaventura de Sousa Santos e João Rodrigues
After a long and broadly participative constituent process, in 2008, Ecuador approved a new political Constitution where Buen Vivir or Sumak Kawsay was established as a social priority. The thesis contends that mainstream theories of well-being are insufficient to translate this social endeavor into practice, thus the need to establish a specific epistemic framework for the concept of Buen Vivir outlined in the Andean country. This paper proposes the political socioecology of life as a theoretical, methodological, and empirical framework to examine, interpret, and dispute the realization of Buen Vivir in Ecuador. For this purpose, based on a critique that exposes the limitations of using money as an evaluator of well-being, the research applies the metric "time for a good life" as the unit of analysis. The measurement of time "well lived" has the advantage of being an ambivalent indicator; it is both empirical-factual and prescriptive-desiderative: it accounts for a fact and reveals a desire. The research shows how time well lived is characterized by the production and enjoyment of relational goods, a concept that allows us to address time distribution focusing on the time of existence / life; the time dedicated to the good life; the concentration or inequality of time well lived; geography and the time of time well-lived; the macro structuring of time for good life; the temporality of the Pachamama (nature's sumak kawsay); and the impact of time on satisfaction with life.

Through statistical and econometric analysis of time-use surveys conducted in Ecuador in 2007 (76,922 cases) and in 2012 (83,533 cases), as well as of administrative records, we conclude that: 1) life satisfaction depends on the distribution of time; 2) good living is a function of the degree of social and spatial concentration of time well lived; 3) the usurpation of good life is linked to racism, patriarchy and capital-labor relations as structural and structuring conditions of power relations; 4) time well lived should not be evaluated exclusively by durability, but by the relational goods produced during that time; 5) monetary well-being can coexist with high levels of temporary "bad living"; 6) macro-structural decisions affect individual decisions; and 7) social good living is contingent on a harmonious life with the Pachamama.

The analysis proposed for the Ecuadorian case allows us to address a debate of greater importance: the relevance and meaning we give to time is that which we give to our lives and our era. Consequently, if we aspire to a more just and democratic form of social organization, then we must ensure a different distribution of time. The contribution of this investigation is not the narrated past or the dispute over its interpretation but rather the restoration of the historicity of time well lived, which can help to generate an analytical framework to produce uchronias that reclaim time, not as money (acceleration for accumulation) but as good life.

Key Words: Buen Vivir, Sumak Kawsay, political socioecology, time, temporality, uchronia