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May 2001
304 pages  

6 x 9
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Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America
Camp, Roderic Ai
The culmination of a major survey, this new study attempts for the first time to make “the definition of democracy” in Latin America visible, and thus able to be interpreted.

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Roderic Ai Camp is McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim at Claremont McKenna College in California. The author of more than twenty books on Mexico, his most recent publications include Politics in Mexico: The Decline of Authoritarianism and Crossing Swords: Politics and Religion in Mexico. He is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including those from the Fulbright Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Smithsonian Institution, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which supported the research for this project.
“The research is some of the best I have seen in this field, covering material that even single country analyses have ignored. . . . The inclusion of the CD is brilliant and will make an important contribution to the availability of such data.” —Miguel Angel Centeno, Princeton University

“Citizen Views of Democracy in Latin America seeks to expand our understanding of how Chileans, Costa Ricans, and Mexicans think about the meaning of democracy, why they so think, and, to a lesser extent, what difference might such ideas about democracy make for other aspects of collective life. The decision to make the data available through a CD-ROM is truly inspired.” —Jorge Dominguez, Harvard University

“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 relatonship 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.”—Book News

“ ... a major and well-substantiated contribution to the debate about democracy’s values and its future in Latin America.”—Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002

“An intriguing depiction of the political views and attitudes of citizens in three Latin American nations.” --Int. Jour. of Public Opinion Research

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Latin American Series
Latin America/Politics

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.


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