Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America

Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America

Edited by Roderic Ai Camp
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 304
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    Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America
    Book Description:

    When Americans and Latin Americans talk about democracy, are they imagining the same thing? For years, researchers have suspected that fundamental differences exist between how North Americans view and appraise the concept of democracy and how Latin Americans view the same term. These differences directly affect the evolution of democratization and political liberalization in the countries of the region, and understanding them has tremendous consequences for U.S.-Latin American relations. But until now there has been no hard data to make "the definition of democracy" visible, and thus able to be interpreted. This book, the culmination of a monumental survey project, is the first attempt to do so.

    Camp headed a research team that in 1998 surveyed 1,200 citizens in three countries-three distinct cases of democratic transition. Costa Rica is alleged to be the most democratic in Latin America; Mexico is a country in transition toward democracy; Chile is returning to democracy after decades of severe repression. The survey wascarefully designed to show how the average citizen in each of these nations understands democracy.

    InCitizen Views of Democracy in Latin America, ten leading scholars of the region analyze and interpret the results. Written with scholar and undergraduate in mind, the essays explore the countries individually, showing how the meaning of democracy varies among them. A key theme emerges: there is no uniform "Latin American" understanding of democracy, though the nations share important patterns. Other essays trace issues across boundaries, such as the role of ethnicity on perceptions of democracy. Several of the contributors also compare democratic norms in Latin America with those outside the region, including the United States. Concluding essays analyze the institutional and policy consequences of the data, including how attitudes toward private versus public ownership are linked to democratization.

    Every essay in the collection is based on the same data set, included on a CD-ROM packaged within each book, resulting in an organically cohesive work ideally suited for use in courses introducing Latin American and Third World politics, comparative politics, democratic transition, and research methods. Scholars and students may use the software and data set on the CD-ROM for comparative research projects linked to the essays in the volume.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-9060-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PART I: Introduction

    • Chapter 1 Democracy through Latin American Lenses: An Appraisal
      (pp. 3-24)
      Roderic Ai Camp

      A decade ago, when I served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation’s Bilateral Commission on Mexico, I came to the realization that scholars and the U.S. policy community had little, if any, understanding of the Mexican meaning of democracy. Indeed, I believe that fundamental differences exist between how North Americans view and operationalize the concept of democracy and how Mexicans and other Latin Americans view the same term. When the Bilateral Commission completed its report, theonlydissenting note in the final document was on this very issue, and the report concluded that “the governments of Mexico and the...

  4. PART II: Is There a Latin American Democracy?: New Theory about the Region

    • Chapter 2 Democracy and Mass Belief Systems in Latin America
      (pp. 27-50)
      Alejandro Moreno

      Support for democracyis seen as a cultural matter. In this chapter I argue that support for democracy is also a matter of information, cognition, and belief systems. The way people think about democracy is based on cognitive and informational skills and resources. The concept of democracy varies depending on society’s belief systems, and mass belief systems depend on individual characteristics such as education, informational background, cognitive skills, degrees of political “sophistication,” and so on.

      To a greater or lesser extent, the concept of “democracy” is a component of a society’s belief system. Its centrality, meaning, and attributes vary significantly among...

    • Chapter 3 Does Trust Matter? Interpersonal Trust and Democratic Values in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico
      (pp. 51-70)
      Timothy J. Power and Mary A. Clark

      In the comparative study of politics, few questions have been as enduring as “What causes democracy?” As perhaps our favorite dependent variable, democracy has been poked and prodded repeatedly by each of the major theoretical approaches in comparative politics: structural, institutional, voluntarist, and cultural. The last of these approaches, political culture, figured prominently in the first wave of modern comparative studies in the 1950s and 1960s but came under severe attack in the 1970s and early 1980s, somewhat fading from the scene. Over the past 10 years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the relationship between cultural...

  5. PART III: Cultural Explanations for Democracy:: Is There a Link? The Role of Traditional Variables

    • Chapter 4 Costa Rica: Portrait of an Established Democracy
      (pp. 73-89)
      Mary A. Clark

      The study of political cultureis an important complement to political scientists’ focus on institutions, organizations, processes, and policies. Research in this field allows us to understand the way that individuals think about politics and to pinpoint which groups of people hold what beliefs. Given the recent wave of democratizations in Latin America, it seems logical to ask: Do people find official proclamations of democracy to be legitimate, and do they prefer this type of regime to others? Do their attitudes reflect a participatory political culture, tolerance for political and social differences, and a willingness to follow the rules even...

    • Chapter 5 Costa Rican Exceptionalism: Why the Ticos Are Different
      (pp. 90-106)
      Mitchell A. Seligson

      Costa Ricans, who call themselvesticos, have long prided themselves on being different from their neighbors in Latin America. As Mary Clark has pointed out in her discussion in this volume, Costa Ricans are justifiably proud of their high standard of living, which in the area of health matches that of the advanced industrial countries despite a per capita income one-tenth as high.¹ Indeed, according to the latest World Bank data, male life expectancy in Costa Rica exceeds that in the United States, and Costa Rica’s overall level of human development outranks its level of income to a greater degree...

    • Chapter 6 Transition to Democracy: A Mexican Perspective
      (pp. 107-117)
      Matthew T. Kenney

      Mexico’s transition to democracy, like so much in modern Mexican politics, has been characterized by uncertainty, contradictions, and doubts. The dominance of a single party and the political stability it has brought to Mexico for most of the twentieth century have made it an anomalous case not just within Latin America, but among Third World countries generally. While there is much enthusiasm inside and outside Mexico for its transition to democracy since 1994, this process has been a slow one and only now appears to be completed with the victory of Vicente Fox Quesada in the July 2000 presidential elections,...

    • Chapter 7 Legacies of Authoritarianism: Political Attitudes in Chile and Mexico
      (pp. 118-138)
      Joseph L. Klesner

      Any studyof contemporary Latin American political culture must address the authoritarian heritage of many of the nations of this hemisphere. Costa Rica’s record of democracy is exceptional among its neighbors; all major Latin American countries have experienced military or civilian authoritarian rule within the memory of many or most of their citizens. Chile and Mexico are among the latest Latin American nations to have made the transition to electoral democracy and hence provide valuable cases through which we can explore the legacy of authoritarian rule for the attitudinal foundations of democracy. Their experiences of authoritarianism, however, were sufficiently different...

    • Chapter 8 Color and Democracy in Latin America
      (pp. 139-154)
      Miguel Basáñez and Pablo Parás

      Color differencesin the United States are very clear. Their impact on society, politics, and business is evident every day. This is not the case in Latin America. In the United States, there are antidiscrimination laws, protection for minority workers, and a variety of ways of expressing the intensity of the social division by color. Political and advertising campaigns are designed with a very clear perception of color differences. Perhaps the most conspicuous example in advertising is the “United Colors of Benetton” campaign.

      Why is the effect of color not studied in Latin America? Why not even in countries such...

  6. PART IV: Does Democracy Cross Boundaries?: Latin America versus North America

    • Chapter 9 Mexico and the United States: Two Distinct Political Cultures?
      (pp. 157-182)
      Frederick C. Turner and Carlos A. Elordi

      Political scientistshave long assumed that the political cultures of Mexico and the United States differ fundamentally, reflecting the different historical experiences of the two countries. This has provided an easy explanation as to why the institutions of politics have remained so distinct north and south of the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande during the twentieth century, with patterns of politics far more authoritarian in Mexico than in the United States. Challenging this perspective, however, are at least two types of information. First, if we look at what citizens of Mexico and the United States say that they want in their political...

  7. PART V: Do Differing Democratic Visions Make a Difference?: Economics and Partisanship

    • Chapter 10 Politics and Markets in Latin America: A Distinctive View of the Role of the State in Service Provision?
      (pp. 185-205)
      Kenneth M. Coleman

      Privatization of public enterpriseshas been a part of the policy prescription imposed on Latin America by the so-called Washington Consensus of the international financial institutions (IFIs) as of the late 1980s.¹ While there are other elements to that package of policy prescriptions, certainly the belief among the IFIs was that the shrinking of the state would work to dampen inflation and lessen local credit crunches by making the state less of a borrower, and that the private sector could provide many services more efficiently than could the public sector. Consequently, lending by the IFIs was often conditioned on privatizing...

    • Chapter 11 Chilean Citizens and Chilean Democracy: The Management of Fear, Division, and Alienation
      (pp. 206-220)
      Louis W. Goodman

      In the fall of 1967I began living in a “popular” neighborhood in the south-Santiago comuna of La Cisterna to carry out a participant observation study of the lives of bluecollar workers there. One of my first acquaintances was a construction worker active in a local Christian Democratic community organization. We had become friends, and I asked for his help with my study. He agreed and I led off with the question, “What do you think is the greatest problem confronting Chilean workers today?” Based on our earlier conversations, I fully expected him to say something like, “A lack of...

  8. PART VI: Is Culture a False Variable in Democratic Theorizing?: A Doubter’s View

    • Chapter 12 Polls, Political Culture, and Democracy: A Heretical Historical Look
      (pp. 223-242)
      Alan Knight

      I am not a political scientist, still less a psychologist, so my contribution to this volume is untypical. I will try to bring to bear my historical knowledge of Mexico, commenting—sometimes from a methodologically inexpert stance—on the several case studies and the survey data that inform them. The common theme we are addressing is Mexican political culture and its relationship to democratization. Both concepts, as I shall suggest, are problematic, but “political culture” is especially problematic. I admit to having used it and I would not wish to deny its occasional utility, so long as it is used...

  9. Reference Materials

    • Appendix 1: Methodological Note
      (pp. 245-246)
    • Appendix 2: Hewlett Poll, 1998
      (pp. 247-255)
    • Appendix 3: Wall Street Journal Poll, 1999
      (pp. 256-260)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 261-286)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 287-288)
  12. Index
    (pp. 289-293)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 294-294)