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The Politics of Collective Participation and Governance in Cameroon
Since the mid-1980s, there has been much federalism talk in Cameroon where federation (said to have been created in Foumban in 1961) had supposedly been ëoverwhelminglyí rejected in 1972 by Cameroonians. ëConfusioncracyí is the one good term that could conveniently explain it. Written with the trilogy of criticism, provocation, and construction in mind, this book aims at reconstructing a new and vigorous society in Cameroon that ensures respect for fundamental human rights and certain basic shared values. Much as the book centres on the Anglophone Problem; it is principally about human rights and their excessive violations ñ the direct result of the absence of separation of powers and constitutionalism. It largely condemns Cameroonís government for incessantly singing democracy and rule of law at the same time as it is massively torturing and wantonly killing citizens that dare to question the confusion. While sharing the position that a state like Cameroon must be seen to ensure that its laws and other practices accord with its international commitments, the book nonetheless strives to apportion the blame for Cameroonís human rights catastrophe accordingly; showing how the English-speaking minority itself, generally speaking, contributes to a large extent in propping up the dictatorship that is oppressing not only that minority but Cameroonians at large. The book challenges Cameroon to assume a leadership role in uniting Africans through meaningful federalization rather than further splitting them into incapable mini-states on the challenging world stage.
Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico
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.
Unveiling Mirage Democracy in Contemporary Africa
Democracy is the faith that the process of experience is more important than any special result attained, so that special results achieved are of ultimate value only as they are used to enrich and order the ongoing process. Africans must therefore be allowed to apply their cultural and historical experiences and talents in working out a pattern of ëgovernment of the people, by the people, and for the peopleí according to their own understanding and as their own peculiar circumstances demand. Those who do not want the vertical ëWestern-Style Democracyí must be given a fair chance to demonstrate an alternative African horizontal democracy. Perhaps what they come up with might be of benefit to politics even in the West, provided that their radical system of horizontal democracy protects the life, liberty and property of citizens, and provided that the people want it. The question of externally imposed or market-driven multi-party or dual-party or non-party is a matter of modality and should not occupy the center stage in Africa.
Between Hope and Despair
In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new foreword, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America. Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy. Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.
Islam, Culture, and Political Change
“The author convincingly argues for a view of democracy based not on ‘objective logic,’ but rather on pragmatic lines...[Mirsepassi] does deliver a variety of useful perspectives on the nature of the contemporary hostility.”
The gap between the richest and poorest Americans has grown steadily over the last thirty years, and economic inequality is on the rise in many other industrialized democracies as well. But the magnitude and pace of the increase differs dramatically across nations. A country’s political system and its institutions play a critical role in determining levels of inequality in a society. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation argues that the reverse is also true—inequality itself shapes political systems and institutions in powerful and often overlooked ways. In Democracy, Inequality, and Representation, distinguished political scientists and economists use a set of international databases to examine the political causes and consequences of income inequality. The volume opens with an examination of how differing systems of political representation contribute to cross-national variations in levels of inequality. Torben Iverson and David Soskice calculate that taxes and income transfers help reduce the poverty rate in Sweden by over 80 percent, while the comparable figure for the United States is only 13 percent. Noting that traditional economic models fail to account for this striking discrepancy, the authors show how variations in electoral systems lead to very different outcomes. But political causes of disparity are only one part of the equation. The contributors also examine how inequality shapes the democratic process. Pablo Beramendi and Christopher Anderson show how disparity mutes political voices: at the individual level, citizens with the lowest incomes are the least likely to vote, while high levels of inequality in a society result in diminished electoral participation overall. Thomas Cusack, Iverson, and Philipp Rehm demonstrate that uncertainty in the economy changes voters’ attitudes; the mere risk of losing one’s job generates increased popular demand for income support policies almost as much as actual unemployment does. Ronald Rogowski and Duncan McRae illustrate how changes in levels of inequality can drive reforms in political institutions themselves. Increased demand for female labor participation during World War II led to greater equality between men and women, which in turn encouraged many European countries to extend voting rights to women for the first time. The contributors to this important new volume skillfully disentangle a series of complex relationships between economics and politics to show how inequality both shapes and is shaped by policy. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation provides deeply nuanced insight into why some democracies are able to curtail inequality—while others continue to witness a division that grows ever deeper.
Social Movements and Cultural Politics in Postauthoritarian Taiwan
Democracy on Trial is an attempt to begin to negotiate the problem of writing about and understanding democracy and social movements in Taiwan, and what they can tell us about a place and country that for me is both home and the field, an object of study and yet also an area of hope and engagement. "Democracy on Trial is as impressive for its conceptual sophistication as it is for its ethnographic depth. Chuang’s personal experiences and engagement with the movements he describes and analyzes bring to life the wealth of documentary and ethnographic data. The study should be of interest not just to Taiwan scholars and readers, but also those interested in issues of democracy in China and East Asia, the politics of Taiwan-PRC relations, and social movement scholars and activists." -- Arif Dirlik, Author of Culture and History in Postrevolutionary China: The Perspective of Global Modernity
From Dresden to Abu Ghraib, How Leaders Evade Accountability for Abuse, Atrocity, and Killing
Immigrants and American Civic Institutions
The massive demographic changes in the United States during the past few decades have made understanding the place of immigrants in the public sphere more critical than ever. Democracy's Promise examines both the challenges and opportunities posed to American civic institutions by the presence of increasing numbers of immigrants. "As political parties (perhaps) decline in the United States, as civic organizations (perhaps) move away from direct participatory politics, and as the number of immigrants certainly increases--what will link new Americans to the political realm? Janelle Wong answers this important question clearly, with elegance, nuance, rich description, and galvanizing provocativeness. Her evidence is compelling and her sense of urgency about the need for parties to look beyond short-term interests even more so." --Jennifer L. Hochschild, Harvard University "Wong draws on the Latino and Asian immigrant experience, with specific examples from the Chinese and Mexican communities of New York and Los Angeles, to show how the political parties have largely failed to organize these groups and why labor unions and immigrant advocacy organizations have stepped in to take their place. Far from 'disuniting' America, she clearly shows that bringing these groups into the political fray is central to the project of renewing American democracy." --John Mollenkopf, CUNY Graduate Center "A scathing critique of the role of parties in the mobilization of new immigrants and an invaluable analysis of alternative pathways of mobilization through community organizations." --Michael Jones-Correa, Cornell University "By employing multiple empirical methods, including in-depth interviews and sophisticated survey analyses, Janelle Wong provides a compelling account of the political activities and allegiances of America's Asian and Latino immigrants that challenges much conventional wisdom. Often the political parties are failing to reach out to these groups, and often immigrants remain concerned about their home countries; but they are nonetheless increasingly active in American politics, in ways that may do much to shape the course of American political development in the 21st century. Democracy's Promise is a major contribution to our understanding of this crucial dimension of American politics." --Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania "Democracy's Promise challenges political parties to reexamine their priorities for mobilizing new voters, and identifies the critical role civic institutions play in invigorating participation among immigrant citizens. Wong's analysis is at once precise and expansive; illuminating the contours of Latino and Asian American political incorporation and provoking thoughtful debate on inclusion in democratic theory." --Jane Junn, Rutgers University Janelle S. Wong is Assistant Professor of Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.