Beginning in the 1970s, South America became a testing ground for the imposition of neoliberal policies, with profound implications for governance. Countries across the region moved away from earlier structuralist/ISI policies (see Rivera-Quiñones in this volume) and adopted orthodox neoliberal policies associated with marketization, deregulation and commodification. At the heart of these policies were new models of state–society relations that required the selective retreat of the state and wrenching changes to traditional models of political and social regulation. As the name ‘Washington Consensus’ suggests, the new policy regime also involved a fundamental change in the relationship between South American states and the international system, as international actors acquired increased power over national and local actors through coercion, cooptation and ideological suasion (see O’Brien and Battaglino in this same volume). (Publisher summary)