Citizens' Power in Latin America

Theory and Practice

By Pascal Lupien

Subjects: Political Science, Latin American Studies, Electoral Politics, Democracy
Hardcover : 9781438469171, 188 pages, April 2018
Paperback : 9781438469188, 188 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents

List of Tables
Part I. Participatory Democracy in Theory and Practice

1. Introduction: The Emergence of Democratic Institutional Innovation in Latin America

2. Theoretical Origins of Citizen Participation

3. Institutionalization of Citizen Participation in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Chile: Models of Participatory Design

Part II. The Cases

4. Venezuela: Radical Participatory Democracy

5. Ecuador: Radical Discourse, Dashed Expectations

6. Chile: Pragmatic Citizen Participation

7. Conclusions and Prospects

Works Cited

Examines why some democratic innovations succeed while others fail, using Venezuela, Ecuador, and Chile as case studies.


Citizens' Power in Latin America takes the reader into the heart of communities where average citizens are attempting to build a new democratic model to improve their socioeconomic conditions and to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. Based on groundbreaking fieldwork conducted in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Chile, Pascal Lupien contrasts two models of participatory design that have emerged in Latin America and identifies the factors that enhance or diminish the capacity of these mechanisms to produce positive outcomes. He draws on lived experiences of citizen participants to reveal the potential and the dangers of participatory democracy. Why do some democratic innovations appear to succeed while others fail? To what extent do these institutions really empower citizens, and in what ways can they be used by governments to control participation? What lessons can be learned from these experiments? Given the growing dissatisfaction with existing democratic systems across the world, this book will be of interest to people seeking innovative ways of deepening democracy.

Pascal Lupien teaches in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at the University of Guelph and is a Research Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Ontario, Canada.


"This book is an important contribution to the field of comparative and Latin American politics and a rich empirical contribution to the often-lofty theoretical debates on democratic theory and participatory democracy." — Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies