Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico

Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico

by Matthew R. Cleary, Susan Stokes

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Overview

Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico by Matthew R. Cleary, Susan Stokes

Some theorists claim that democracy cannot work without trust. According to this argument, democracy fails unless citizens trust that their governing institutions are serving their best interests. Similarly, some assert that democracy works best when people trust one another and have confidence that politicians will look after citizen interests. Questioning such claims, Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism, by Matthew Cleary and Susan Stokes, suggests that skepticism, not trust, is the hallmark of political culture in well-functioning democracies. Drawing on extensive research in two developing democracies, Argentina and Mexico, Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism shows that in regions of each country with healthy democracies, people do not trust one another more than those living in regions where democracy functions less well, nor do they display more personal trust in governments or politicians. Instead, the defining features of the healthiest democracies are skepticism of government and a belief that politicians act in their constituents' best interest only when it is personally advantageous for them to do so. In contrast to scholars who lament what they see as a breakdown in civic life, Cleary and Stokes find that people residing in healthy democracies do not participate more in civic organizations than others, but in fact, tend to retreat from civic life in favor of private pursuits. The authors conclude that governments are most efficient and responsive when they know that institutions such as the press or an independent judiciary will hold them accountable for their actions. The question of how much citizens should trust politicians and governments has consumed political theorists since America's founding. In Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism, Matthew Cleary and Susan Stokes test the relationship between trust and the quality of governance, showing that it is not trust, but vigilance and skepticism that provide the foundation for well-functioning democracies. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871540652
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Publication date: 11/28/2009
Series: Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

MATTHEW R. CLEARY is assistant professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. SUSAN C. STOKES is professor of political science at Yale University.

Table of Contents

About the Authorsix
Prefacexi
Acknowledgmentsxiii
Part IPolitical Culture in Democratic Theory
Chapter 1The Place of Trust in the Political Culture of Democracy3
Part IIRegional Variation in the Quality of Democracy
Chapter 2Regional Variation in the Quality of Democracy in Mexico21
Chapter 3Regional Variation in the Quality of Democracy in Argentina55
Part IIITesting Hypotheses About Democracy and Political Culture
Chapter 4Political Culture and the Quality of Democracy83
Chapter 5Trust and Democratization129
Part IVThe Political Culture of Democracy Reconsidered
Chapter 6Region, Democratization, and Political Culture177
Appendix191
Notes211
References227
Index235

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