The Inclusionary Turn in Latin American Democracies, edited by Diana Kapiszewski, Steven Levitsky, and Deborah J. Yashar (KLY), is an excellent collaborative effort and a must read for scholars interested in the dynamics of political inclusion in Latin America and elsewhere. It is a masterpiece on the comparative politics of Latin America that deals with one of the region’s most challenging processes: the political inclusion of the popular sectors. The edited volume honors one of the most influential schools in the study of the comparative politics of Latin America—that of the Political Science Department at UC-Berkeley and two of its most influential scholars, Ruth Berins Collier and David Collier. Their pathbreaking work, Shaping the Political Arena (1991), is a foundational work in the comparative historical analysis of political incorporation, organization, mobilization, and representation in Latin America. Over the last three decades, Ruth Berins Collier and David Collier and the school of scholars they mentored—some of whom wrote chapters for this edited volume—have made major contributions to our understanding of these crucial theoretical issues.
The Inclusionary Turn describes and explains the efforts made by Latin American states and governments to incorporate previously marginalized sectors during an episode of inclusion that occurred between the 1990s and the 2010s. Given the high levels of inequality in Latin America and the multidimensional nature and persistence of the phenomenon, the expansion of meaningful citizenship to popular sectors is a crucial, and fiercely resisted, political process. The book presents a rigorous analysis using different methodological perspectives to tackle different angles of this episode of inclusion.
The prologue of The Inclusionary Turn, by Ruth Berins Collier, presents the long-term perspective on political inclusion in Latin America and identifies two “inclusionary episodes” (p. xxv). This first episode entailed the political incorporation of the working class. It established the institutions that legalized unions, “shaped the nature of workers’ representation in the party-electoral arena” (p. xxix), and granted unions access to the policy-making process (p. xxxi). The main flaw of this episode was its inability to extend the benefits of meaningful political incorporation to women, informal workers, or Indigenous peoples.
The second episode of incorporation that Berins Collier identifies, and the main subject of this edited volume, was marked by a “more complex and fragmented” social structure (p. xxxii). The globalization of capitalism and associated neoliberal market reforms were also important contextual factors, as was the persistence of democracy. Berins Collier also emphasizes that unions were not the main actors in the second episode of incorporation. Rather, other types of interest organizations, such as civil society organizations and NGOs, emerged and flourished. In turn, a pluralization and fragmentation of organizations created a new landscape of popular interest participation, mobilization, and representation.
Chapter 1 defines the main traits of the second episode of inclusion. KLY conceptualize inclusion as various efforts by democratically elected governments that, beginning at the end of the twentieth century and extending to the 2010s, expanded “the boundaries of citizenship” (p. 1) to previously marginalized sectors. These efforts include the recognition of rights and providing access to decision making, policy making, or to resources (material, financial, or legal).
KLY evaluate the inclusionary turn (recognition, access, and resources) in terms of institutional (“parchment”) changes that target marginalized popular sectors, especially informal and rural workers, Indigenous people, and racial minorities (p. 14). They also conclude that the second episode of inclusion involved a broader set of the population (not only unionized formal workers) and was more pluralistic: “Inclusion has thus benefited a more diffuse, fragmented, less organized set of actors, often with weak political leverage” (p. 17).
The persistence of democracy and that of multilevel inequality, KLY claim, are the most important factors in explaining this second episode of inclusion. The politicization of inequality, the concomitant mobilization of demands by the popular sectors, and politicians’ interest in capturing popular sector votes, incentivized by sustained democratic competition, are the main triggers of this inclusionary turn. Candelaria Garay argues that high electoral competition for “outsiders” and social mobilization that advocates for social policy expansion determine the establishment of “large-scale nondiscretionary benefits for outsiders” (p. 67).
The chapters also delineate and explain cross-national variations in the breadth and depth of the inclusionary turn. Sebastián Etchemendy’s and Brian Palmer Rubin’s chapters emphasize that there was variation in the types of linkages between the popular sectors (and their organizations) and the governments or other agents of inclusion. The rootedness of the linkage (programmatic or organizational) between the political Left and the popular sectors (especially their organizations) explains the depth and stability of the inclusionary turn. Samuel Handlin’s chapter emphasizes that the absence of a prolonged state crisis and an institutionalized leftist party set the stage, for example, for a more durable and less contentious inclusionary turn. Kenneth Roberts claims that past processes of incorporation and the dual transition to democracy and a market economy influenced the nature of the second episode of inclusion. The dual transition determined both the broad, pluralistic nature and organizational diffuseness of the second episode (p. 519). Maxwell Cameron goes even further, noting the role that colonial legacies played in shaping long-term processes of inclusion.
KLY identify three main limits to the inclusionary turn. First, they note that conservative forces and the wealthy use democratic institutions to thwart redistribution. Second, the inherent weakness of state institutions also hampers inclusion. Third, participatory institutions are not populated by members of the popular sectors. The remaining chapters also highlight the main pitfalls and limits of this process. For example, Benjamin Goldfrank’s chapter concludes that, even though there is some variation in the region, new participatory institutions created as part of an inclusionary effort gave citizens only a vague consultative role, and in general, “the reach of participatory institutions remains limited” (p. 119). The chapter by Thad Dunning and Lucas M. Novaes adds another limit: the role of clientelistic brokerage. Parties’ and, in turn, governments’ alliances with local-level brokers are unstable (based on a quid pro quo exchange), affecting the permanence of social programs. Sebastián Mazzuca’s chapter describes how the “rentier populism” of ruling coalitions that seek to take advantage of the commodity boom by (1) yielding to the “expropriation temptation” by advancing economic populist measures (p. 444) and (2) seeking to hegemonize political power (p. 450) affects the sustainability of the inclusionary turn. Maxwell Cameron’s chapter highlights how instances of popular mobilization faced violent opposition from the elites; the countries in which this opposition occurred experienced cycles of inclusion and repression, which resulted in limited inclusionary turns (p. 424).
The Inclusionary Turn covers a crucial recent episode in Latin America; meaningful political inclusion of marginalized sectors remains a major structural challenge in the region. This book makes four significant contributions: it presents a broad picture of the political processes that led to this second episode of inclusion; describes its different manifestations; explains its nature and potential long-term effects; and highlights its limits and pitfalls. The Inclusionary Turn opens many avenues of inquiry, such as research into the long-term effects of this episode of political inclusion, how the deinstitutionalization of many Latin American party systems shaped particular forms of inclusion, and the role direct action played in politicizing the demands of the popular sectors.