Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America / Edition 1

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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 was carefully designed to show how the average citizen in each of these nations understands democracy.

In Citizen 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Based on surveys of 12,000 people in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico, this book examines the different concepts of democracy within Latin America and contrasts each of these with the American understanding of the idea. Twelve essays discuss mass belief systems, trust, cultural explanations for democracy, the role of traditional variables, the relationship between the political culture in Mexico and that in the U.S., and economics and partisanship. Each of the essays are based on the same data set (included in an accompanying CD-ROM). Contributors are political scientists and historians from the United States, Mexico, and Argentina. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
“ ... a major and well-substantiated contribution to the debate about democracy’s values and its future in Latin America.”
Foreign Affairs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822957560
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Series: Pitt Latin American Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Democracy through Latin American Lenses: An Appraisal 3
2 Democracy and Mass Belief Systems in Latin America 27
3 Does Trust Matter? Interpersonal Trust and Democratic Values in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico 51
4 Costa Rica: Portrait of an Established Democracy 73
5 Costa Rican Exceptionalism: Why the Ticos Are Different 90
6 Transition to Democracy: A Mexican Perspective 107
7 Legacies of Authoritarianism: Political Attitudes in Chile and Mexico 118
8 Color and Democracy in Latin America 139
9 Mexico and the United States: Two Distinct Political Cultures? 157
10 Politics and Markets in Latin America: A Distinctive View of the Role of the State in Service Provision? 185
11 Chilean Citizens and Chilean Democracy: The Management of Fear, Division, and Alienation 206
12 Polls, Political Culture, and Democracy: A Heretical Historical Look 223
Reference Materials
App. 1 Methodological Note 245
App. 2 Hewlett Poll, 1998 247
App. 3 Wall Street Journal Poll, 1999 256
Notes 261
Contributors 287
Index 289
Instructions for Using CD-ROM 294
Hewlett Survey Data on CD-ROM
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