Books

Brokers, Voters and Clientilism    Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism The Puzzle of Distributive Politics

Written with co-authors Thad Dunning, Marcelo Nazareno and Valeria Brusco.

Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism addresses major questions in distributive politics. Why is it acceptable for parties to try to win elections by promising to make certain groups of people better off, but unacceptable – and illegal – to pay people for their votes? Why do parties often lavish benefits on loyal voters, whose support they can count on anyway, rather than on responsive swing voters? Why is vote buying and machine politics common in today’s developing democracies but a thing of the past in most of today’s advanced democracies? This book develops a theory of broker-mediated distribution to answer these questions, testing the theory with research from four developing democracies, and reviews a rich secondary literature on countries in all world regions. The authors deploy normative theory to evaluate whether clientelism, pork-barrel politics, and other non-programmatic distributive strategies can be justified on the grounds that they promote efficiency, redistribution, or voter participation.

This publication is available on the following link(s):

Cultures in Conflict: Social Movements and the State in Peru    Cultures in Conflict: Social Movements and the State in Peru

In this vivid ethnography set in contemporary Peru, Susan Stokes provides a compelling analysis of the making and unmaking of class consciousness among the urban poor. Her research strategy is multifaceted; through interviews, participant observation, and survey research she digs deeply into the popular culture of the social activists and shantytown residents she studies. The result is a penetrating look at how social movements evolve, how poor people construct independent political cultures, and how the ideological domination of oppressed classes can shatter.

This work is a new and vital chapter in the growing literature on the formation of social movements. It chronicles the transformation of Peru’s poor from a culture of deference and clientelism in the late 1960s to a population mobilized for radical political action today.

This publication is available on the following link(s):

Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism    Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico (Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust (Numbered))

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.

This publication is available on the following link(s):

    Mandates and Democracy: Neoliberalism by Surprise in Latin America

Does it matter when politicians ignore the promises they made and the preferences of their constituents? If politicians want to be reelected or see their party reelected at the end of their term, why would they impose unpopular policies? Susan Stokes explores these questions by developing a model of policy switches and then testing it with statistical and qualitative data from Latin American elections over the past two decades. She concludes that politicians may change policies because unpopular policies are best for constituents and hence also will best serve their own political ambitions.

This publication is available on the following link(s):