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Democratic Critiques of Democracy

Guillermo O'Donnell

Publication Year: 2007

Guillermo O'Donnell here brings together a collection of significant recent essays in which he considers both the method for and substance of critiques of democracies. While progress has been made in democratization, the authoritarian legacy hangs as a shadow over that advancement. O'Donnell engages in his analysis while keeping a firm gaze on that dangerous past. O'Donnell's work has influenced a generation of political scientists. The essays in this volume bring forward and develop many of the ideas presented in his earlier collection, Counterpoints: Selected Essays on Authoritarianism and Democracy. This work will be of interest to scholars working in justice reform, democratization, and comparative politics.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

In 1999 I published a book with a collection of articles I wrote during the two decades preceding it. I titled it Counterpoints because, as its subtitle indicates, these texts deal with authoritarianism, democracy, and their mutual implications. The present volume is another collection of articles, published after Counterpoints. Its title, Dissonances, expresses my feelings about the democracies we have achieved ...

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Chapter 1. Democratic Theory and Comparative Politics

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pp. 1-48

... recent emergence of countries that are or claim to be democratic has generated important challenges to the comparative study of political regimes and to democratic theory itself. These challenges were not noticed initially. Indeed, the literature on new democracies widely shared two basic assumptions: the existence of a sufficiently ...

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Chapter 2. Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies

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pp. 49-76

... interest in what I labeled “horizontal accountability”1 stems from its absence. Many countries, in Latin America and elsewhere, have recently become political democracies, or polyarchies. By this I mean that they satisfy the conditions stipulated by Robert Dahl for defining this regime type.2 Satisfying these conditions is no mean feat: some countries continue under authoritarian rule, and others, ...

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Chapter 3. Horizontal Accountability: The Legal Institutionalization of Mistrust

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pp. 77-98

... good reasons, contemporary social science has been paying close attention to trust and its interplay with institutions. The present chapter, however, deals with mistrust and its institutionalized expressions in the political sphere. The topic I discuss here is horizontal accountability (or, HA).1 I am pleased that this concept has elicited quite a lot of attention, both positive and critical. Not to abuse the patience ...

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Chapter 4. Notes on Various Accountabilities and Their Interrelations

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pp. 99-110

... have for some time been involved in, and concerned about, a subject that I call “horizontal accountability.” I differentiate this type of accountability from vertical accountability, which I define as the mechanism of democratic elections. I also notice, among the “good news” that the contemporary picture offers, that ...

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Chapter 5. Polyarchies and the (Un)Rule of Law in Latin America: A Partial Conclusion

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pp. 111-138

... challenge the appropriateness of attaching the label “democracy” to most countries in this region. At the very least, as Juan Méndez puts it in his introduction to the section on lawless violence, these failures indicate a “clear abdication of democratic authority.” The doubts and challenges to the democratic condition of these countries spring, on one hand, from justified outrage in view of ...

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Chapter 6. Social Sciences in Latin America: Looking at the Past and Glancing at the Future

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pp. 139-154

... an occasion such as this, I suppose it is difficult not to adopt a reminiscent tone, although it need not be a melancholic one. An honor like this is an almost irresistible invitation to look at the past. Of course, it is necessary to avoid the temptation to look at one’s own works in a narcissistic way. Instead, I propose to look back and ...

Works Cited

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pp. 155-172


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pp. 173-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780268088606
E-ISBN-10: 0268088608
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268037284
Print-ISBN-10: 0268037280

Page Count: 196
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Democracy.
  • Democratization -- Latin America.
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