New social movement theory and practice in Latin America during the 1980s represented a high-water mark in terms of hope placed in a democracy located in civil society. This hope arose out of the plethora of grass roots associations and social movements of various kinds that spread throughout the region in the 1970s and 1980s. Particularly through the rise of neighbourhood associations with significant degrees of internal democracy and high levels of participation, an experience of self-management in civil society became everyday reality for many Latin Americans.