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Governance in the Americas

Decentralization, Democracy, and Subnational Government in Brazil, Mexico, and the USA

Robert H. Wilson, Peter M. Ward, Peter K. Spink, Victoria E. Rodriguez

Publication Year: 2008

Governance in the Americas, a multidisciplinary volume, offers important new insights about decentralization, federalism, and democratic change in the three largest federal nations in the Americas: Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. Originating in a major research project conducted by teams in each of the three countries, this study contributes significantly to our understanding of how representative and participatory democracy is being constructed at state and local levels in the recently emerged democracies of Brazil and Mexico, and is being recast and sustained in the United States. The contributors evaluate the performance of subnational governments, as these societies become more genuinely decentralized, and as new actors and managerial routines create and implement public policy. The authors challenge the criticism of “exceptionalism” in the United States, seeking instead to understand the points of convergence and divergence among the three countries as each seeks to improve the effectiveness and public accountability of its policy-making processes.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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Tables and Figures

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pp. ix-viii

This book is the result of an international collaboration of a network of scholars at the University of Texas at Austin (Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies [LLILAS]), the Escola de Administra


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pp. xi-xiv

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1. Decentralization and the Subnational State

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pp. 1-37

Why study governance and subnational governments? After many years of being ignored, or at least relegated to the shadows of academic research, subnational governments have become a prominent topic. The deepening of democratic practice and decentralization in the Americas over the past two decades, together with emerging plurality of parties in government at the state and local levels...

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2. Two Centuries of Federalism in Brazil, Mexico, and the USA

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pp. 38-87

The central question for this chapter is how the tensions between central and local authorities have been addressed in Brazil, Mexico, and the USA during the two hundred−odd years of their existence as independent nations. It is intended both to orient the discussions in the following chapters and to enrich them with an understanding...

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3. The Changing Institutional Capacity of Subnational Government: Toward Effective Co-governance

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pp. 88-144

Until relatively recently most analyses of federalism and decentralization in Latin American countries focused almost exclusively upon relations between the various levels of government, looking up and down the levels of government from central to local, with a particular emphasis upon the central and highest level...

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4. Intergovernmental Relations and the Subnational State: The Decentralization of Public Policy Making

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pp. 145-199

The relationship of decentralization and intergovernmental relations to policy making is the focus of this chapter. Federalist systems are considered centralized when the national government has greater weight in the formation and implementation of public policy and in decisions concerning resource allocation than subnational governments...

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5. Government and Citizens: The Changing Nature of Civil Society

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pp. 200-247

The nature and quality of governmental action in a democracy depend critically on the relationship between citizens and government, which in turn depends on the mechanisms available for interaction, the organizational capacity of citizens to voice their concerns and wishes, and the willingness of governments to listen...

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6. The Past, Present, and Future of Subnational Governments and Federalism

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pp. 248-279

The principal question posed in this study has been the effect of decentralization and of changes in democratic practice on the effi cacy of subnational policy making: that is, the ability and readiness of subnational governments to respond to the issues and concerns of the moral commonwealth. In this fi nal chapter our intention is not to revisit directly the specifi c conclusions reached in each of the previous chapters; rather, we wish to draw back and look at some of the key themes that have emerged across the experiences of the three countries....


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pp. 281-286


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pp. 287-323

About the Authors and Collaborators

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pp. 324-328


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pp. 329-337

E-ISBN-13: 9780268096588
E-ISBN-10: 0268096589
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268044114
Print-ISBN-10: 0268044112

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: Graphics removed; no digital rights.
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 649386195
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Governance in the Americas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Federal government -- Brazil.
  • Decentralization in government -- United States.
  • Federal government -- Mexico.
  • Decentralization in government -- Mexico.
  • Decentralization in government -- Brazil.
  • Federal government -- United States.
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