Starting in the 70s, during the 80s and, more decisively in the 1990s, most Latin American countries implemented reforms conducive to the instauration of neoliberalism, as much in an macroeconomic and institutional frame as in the organization of key social services. This included the privatization of public companies, removing foreign exchange controls, reducing import tariffs, reforming labor law, liberating capital markets, reforming the market for services and goods and negotiating free trade agreements.
More than ten years ago I started to reflect on how sociology is seizing Latin America as an object of study. My goal was to acquire more knowledge about sociology in and about Latin America. But, perhaps at least as importantly, my goal was also to understand how sociology is representing the region and how it is participating in its transformation. At a more conceptual level, I was interested in how sociology selects social problems and suggests social change. Ultimately, this is helping me forge opinions about knowledge and social sciences.
Political leaders can make a difference. They can start a war, sign a peace treaty, promote democracy or establish authoritarianism. In fact, world history could be learned through the study of leaders. And yet political leadership has been of secondary importance in the political science literature. There are more studies about democracy than about democrats and without democrats there is no democracy. This has been especially the case in Latin American political studies so far. We welcome the fact that this is changing and there is more interest in analyzing leaders.
In the article “Movilización y contra-movilización legal. Propuesta para su análisis en América Latina” (Política y Gobierno Vol. XXII, No. 1, 2015: 175-198), I present an analytical framework for the study of legal mobilization processes in Latin America that combines three theoretical perspectives developed in separate fields of scholarship, which are usually not connected: social movement theory, the strand of constitutional theory known as democratic constitutionalism, and legal mobilization studies.
Presidential re-election in Latin America has historically implied a significant element of constitutional instability, dating from the early creation of the Republics. Until a few decades ago, changes in re-election laws tended towards the imposition of term limits, mainly as a result of prolonged experience with dictatorships in most countries of the region.
The proliferation of democratic regimes in Latin America at the end of the 20th century shifted the focus of Latin American politics scholars to research questions relating to democratic development. The raising of these questions, and especially those related to political behavior, was accompanied by an expanded availability of data. One such area of study that has benefited from data availability and democratically-oriented research topics is that of media effects.
Is political decentralization an effective institutional reform to promote citizens´ engagement with democracy? The potential democratizing effect of political decentralization reforms has been a matter of substantial theoretical and empirical debate. Analyses of the causal impact of decentralization reforms have reached very dissimilar conclusions (Eaton and Connerley 2010), and they have been strongly marked by normative preferences.
Have you ever wondered why Central America, the Caribbean, and South America are commonly referred to as “Latin” America? No one in these regions speaks Latin today. The primary language is Castilian Spanish but there is also wide use of Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, and indigenous languages such as Quechua, Aymara, Guaraní, and hundreds of others.
Among historians, Latin American independence has been and continues to be a thoroughly researched field. Beginning with the personal accounts of participants in the wars of independence published in the first half of the nineteenth century, decade after decade historians have produced a steady stream of scholarship on the events which gave birth to the multiple nations of the Americas.
Last year, the Obama administration announced a new civil society initiative, Stand with Civil Society, calling for support of civil society groups across the world and acknowledging the role they play in pushing for citizen engagement, equity, transparency and accountability. These positive perspectives of civil society pushing for more democratic governance contrasts with more skeptical views that civil society may actually negatively impact the prospects for developing strong democrac