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Studying Latin American Politics: Methods or Fads?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2009


Political scientists refer to the comparison of various governments as being the field of comparative politics. Within that category, those that deal with less-developed countries are said to be specialists in political development, a term that has long been controversial due to its value implications. But within this political development category, there is a strong tendency for scholars to either specialize in a specific country and/or a specific set of countries. The sets are generally geographic, so among political scientists one can be a Latin Americanist, an Africanist, and so forth.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 1980

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* This discussion directly results from my period as a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan on a Consortium for World Order Studies fellowship. Several individuals read and gave me helpful criticism on an earlier version of the paper. In particular I would mention Peter G. Snow of the University of Iowa, Yale Ferguson of Rutgers, Hernan Vera of the University of Florida, Margaret Jenks of Lafayette College, and the following from the University of Notre Dame: Peter R. Moody, Ken Jameson, William Phelan and Robert Fatton, Jr. Also the Development Workshop was helpful to my revision.

1 An excellent discussion of the topic is Huntington, Samuel P. and Domínguez, Jorge I., “Political Development” in Handbook of Political Science: Macropolitical Theory, ed. Greenstein, Fred I. and Polsby, Nelson W., vol. 3 (Reading, Mass., 1975)Google Scholar.

2 Almond, Gabriel, The American People and Foreign Policy (New York, 1950)Google Scholar; idem, The Appeals of Communism (Princeton, 1954).

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9 The paper was initially delivered at the 1971 meeting of the American Political Science Association. I attended that particular session and found the paper fascinatingly perverse, yet Wiarda's argument received no particular notice at the meeting — although most papers at these gatherings are greeted with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. It should be noted that there were other writers outside political science making an argument similar to Wiarda's at about the same time. E.g., Pike, Fredrick, Spanish America 1900–1970: Tradition and Social Innovation (New York, 1973)Google Scholar; Dealy, Glen, “The Tradition of Monistic Democracy in Latin America,” Journal of the History of Ideas (10–12, 1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Silvert, Kalman, ed., Expectant Peoples (New York, 1967)Google Scholar.

11 Anderson, Charles, Politics and Economic Change in Latin America (Princeton, 1967)Google Scholar.

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13 Ibid., p. 93–94.

14 O'Donnell, Guillermo, “Corporatism and the Question of the State,” in Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America, ed. Malloy, James (Pittsburgh, 1977), p. 47Google Scholar.

15 Schmitter, p. 96.

16 Morris, James and Ropp, Steve, “Corporatism and Dependent Development: A Honduran Case Study” (Paper delivered at Latin American Studies Association Meeting, Atlanta, 1976)Google Scholar.

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18 Shonfield, Andrew, Modern Capitalism (New York, 1969)Google Scholar; Maier, Charles, Recasting Bourgeois Europe (Princeton, 1975)Google Scholar.

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20 Ibid., pp. 20–25.

21 Stepan, Alfred, The State and Society: Peru in Comparative Perspective (Princeton, 1978), pp. 5259Google Scholar.

23 “Mexico and Latin American Authoritarianism” in Reyna, José Luis and Weinert, Richard S., eds., Authoritarianism in Mexico (Philadelphia, 1977)Google Scholar.

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25 O'Donnell, Guillermo, Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics (Berkeley, 1973)Google Scholar; Reflections on the Patterns of Change in the Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State,” Latin American Research Review, 13 (1978)Google Scholar. Also see an interesting critique in Collier, David, “Industrial Modernization and Political Change: A Latin American Perspective,” World Politics, 30 (1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26 “Reflections on the Patterns of Change in the Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State,” p. 6.

27 O'Donnell, Guillermo, “Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America: The Model Pattern,” in Malloy, pp. 1112Google Scholar.s

28 Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, “Associated-Dependent Development: Theoretical and Practical Implications” in Authoritarian Brazil, ed. Stepan, A. (New Haven, 1973)Google Scholar; Ideologia de la Burguesia Industrial en Sociedades Dependientes (Mexico, 1971)Google Scholar.

29 Stepan, , State and Society, pp. 5259Google Scholar.

30 Lieuwin, Edwin, Arms and Politics in Latin America (New York, 1961)Google Scholar.

31 Putnam, Robert, “Toward Explaining Military Intervention in Latin American Politics,” Western Political Quarterly, 20 (1967)Google Scholar.

32 Nun, José, “The Middle Class Military Coup” in The Politics of Conformity in Latin America, ed. Veliz, C. (London, 1967)Google Scholar.

33 Miguens, José, “Una nueva metodologia para el estudio de los golpes militares en Latinoamerica,” Estrategia (1969)Google Scholar.

34 Stepan, Alfred, The Military in Politics: Changing Patterns in Brazil (Princeton, 1971)Google Scholar.

35 Lieuwin, Edwin, Generals vs. Presidents: Neomilitarism in Latin America (New York, 1964), p, 107Google Scholar.

36 Needler, Martin, “Military Motivations in the Seizure of Power,” Latin American Research Review, 10 (1975), 71Google Scholar.

37 Horowitz, Irving and Trimberger, Ellen, “State Power and Military Nationalism in Latin America,” Comparative Politics, 8 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Vera-Godoy, Hernan and Francis, Michael, “A Totalitarianism in Latin America: Chile's New Military Messiahs,” Third World Review, 3 (1977)Google Scholar.

38 Huntington, Samuel, The Soldier and the State (Cambridge, Mass., 1957)Google Scholar.

39 Cardoso, and Faletto, E., Dependencia y Desarrollo en America Latina (Mexico, 1970)Google Scholar; Cardoso, , “El Consumo de la Teoria de la Dependencia en los Estados Unidos,” El Trimestre Economico, 173 (1977)Google Scholar.

40 E.g., Sunkel, Osvaldo, “Capitalismo Transnacional y Desintegracíon Nacional en America Latina,” Estudios Internacionales, 4 (1971)Google Scholar; Sunkel, and Fuenzalida, Edmundo, “Capitalismo Transnacional y Desarrollo Nacional,” Estudios Internacionales, 11 (1978)Google Scholar.

41 Frank, André Gunder, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (New York, 1969)Google Scholar.

42 Bodenheimer, Susanne, “Dependency and Imperialism: The Roots of Latin America Underdevelopment,” Politics and Society, 1 (1971)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

43 Chilcote, Ronald and Edelstein, Joel, eds., Latin America: The Struggle with Dependency and Beyond (Cambridge, Mass., 1974)Google Scholar.

44 Morris and Ropp, “Corporatism and Dependent Development.”

45 Weisskopf, Thomas, “Dependency as an Explanation of Underdevelopment: A Critique” in The Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment, ed. Wilbur, Charles (New York, 1978)Google Scholar.

46 Cardoso, “El Consumo de la Teoria de la Dependencia en los Estados Unidos.”

47 Chase-Dunn, Christopher, “The Effects of International Economic Dependence on Development and Inequality: A Cross-National Study,” American Sociology Review, 40 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48 Duvall, Raymond, Jackson, Steven, Russett, Bruce, Snidal, Duncan, and Sylvan, David, “A Formal Model of ‘Dependencia’ Theory: Structure and Measurement” (Paper presented to the World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1976)Google Scholar.

49 Palma, Gabriel, “Dependency: A Formal Theory of Underdevelopment or a Methodology for the Analysis of Concrete Situations of Underdevelopment,” World Development, 6 (1978), 905CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

51 Ibid., p. 899.

52 A good critique is Smith, Tony, “The Underdevelopment of Development Literature: The Case of Dependency Theory,” World Politics, 31 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 It should be noted that dependency theory is not just a methodological problem since some authors simply reject the concept. A particularly strong example of that is Packenham, Robert A., “The New Utopianism: PoliticalDevelopment Ideas in the Dependency Literature” (Working papers for Workshop on “The Peruvian Experiment Reconsidered,” The Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., 1978)Google Scholar.

54 Pike, Fredrick, “Corporatism and Latin American-United States Relations,” Review of Politics, 35 (1974)Google Scholar.

55 Langton, Kenneth and Rapoport, Ronald, “Social Structure, Social Context, and Partisan Mobilization: Urban Workers in Chile,” Comparative Political Studies, 8 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

56 Stallings, Barbara, Conflict and Economic Development in Chile (Stamford, Conn., 1978)Google Scholar.

57 Ibid., p. 21.

58 Ibid., p. 20.

59 Ibid., pp. 7–11, 20.

60 Stepan, , Stale and Society, pp. 1726Google Scholar.

61 Linz, Juan, “Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes,” in Handbook of Political Science, eds. Greenstein, and Polsby, , vol. 3 (Reading, Mass., 1974)Google Scholar.

62 Bennett, Douglas and Sharpe, Kenneth, “The State in Late Dependent Industrialization: The Control of Multinational Corporations in Mexico” (Paper given at the American Political Science Association Meeting, Chicago, 1974)Google Scholar.

63 Huntington, Samuel, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, 1968)Google Scholar.

64 In his unpublished paper “The New Utopianism: Political Development Ideas in the Dependency Literature” Robert A. Packenham sees dependency and Huntington's interest in what produces a strong governing structure as being the two major currents in the development literature.

65 Hopkins, Jack, “Contemporary Research on Public Administration and Bureaucracies in Latin America,” Latin American Research Review, 9 (1974)Google Scholar.

66 Cleaves, Peter, Bureaucratic Politics and Administration in Chile (Berkeley, 1974)Google Scholar.

67 A good compilation of writings on the subject is Schmidt, Steffen, Scott, James, Landé, Carl and Guasti, Laura, eds., Friends, Followers, and Factions: A Reader in Political Clientelism (Berkeley, 1977)Google Scholar.

68 Powell, John, “Peasant Society and Clientelistic Politics,” American Political Science Review, 64 (1970)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

69 Jenks, Margaret, “Political Parties in Authoritarian Brazil” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1979)Google Scholar.

70 Miguens, , “Una nueva metodologiá para el estudio de los golpes militares in Latinoamérica”; Potash, Robert, The Army and Politics in Argentina 1928–1945 (Stanford, California 1969)Google Scholar.

71 Skidmore, Thomas, Politics in Brazil, 1934–1964 (New York, 1967)Google Scholar; Roett, Riorden, ed., Brazil in the Sixties (Nashville, Tennessee, 1972)Google Scholar.

72 Payne, James, Patterns of Conflict in Colombia (New Haven, 1968)Google Scholar.

73 Johnson, Kenneth, Mexican Democracy: A Critical View, 2nd ed. (New York, 1978)Google Scholar.

74 Valenzuela, Arturo, Political Brokers in Chile: Local Government in a Centralized Polity (Durham, N.C., 1977)Google Scholar.

75 O'Donnell, “Corporatism and the Question of the State.”

76 Kaufman, , “The Patron-Client Concept and Macro-Politics: Prospects and Problems,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 16 (1974)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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