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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


DAVID DENT, Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies, Towson State University

THE POLITICAL CHANGES IN REGIME TYPE throughout Latin America in the 1980s have forced scholars to reexamine a number of theories of political change, including civil-military relations (items bi 90009417, bi 88002620, bi 90009421, bi 89001792, bi 89001774, and bi 90009485), the connection between debt and democracy (items bi 90009423 and bi 90009484), and the impact of the US, Europe, and Japan on Latin America (items bi 89003451, bi 88003048, and bi 88003047). The theoretical dimension of the democratization debate is now the most salient trend in political science research on Latin America. The current cycle of democratization is treated in Malloy and Seligson's Authoritarians and democrats (item bi 90009418). Baloyra (item bi 90009419) argues that a theory of democratization is nowhere in sight, suggesting that we have a long way to go before an adequate understanding of regime transition is achieved. MacEwan (item bi 89003340) attacks one of the most prominent works - Transitions from authoritarian rule - for failing to incorporate imperialism as a variable for understanding political change. Remmer (item bi 90009469) analyzes why Latin Americanists have been unable to establish a clear linkage between regime type and policy outcome. The ten essays offered in López and Stohl (item bi 88000096) are an excellent source for understanding regime transition and the role of the US in this rather complicated process. Many scholars such as Nef (item bi 88000390) suggest that the current democratic trend is deceptive and one should not expect much until democracy is made more enduring and liveable for the majority of the people in Latin America. In another work, Nef (item bi 88002553) continues the same theme, emphasizing the negative impact on democracy of the debt burden, the expanding power of the military, and the growing demands from below on the ability of Latin American governments to sustain their democratic progress.

The Latin American military has been the subject of several important studies. Remmer's Military rule in Latin America (item bi 90000383) is a penetrating analysis of the topic - one of the best in years. Needler (item bi 90009453), Pinzón López (item bi 89000521), and Reif (item bi 90009465) also treat various aspects of the military in Latin America. The labor movement (items bi 91001900, bi 88002619, bi 89000462, bi 88003048, and bi 88003047) and party politics and elections (items bi 89006522, bi 91001323, bi 89001783, bi 89000495, and bi 89001768) are additional areas of interest this biennium.

Throughout Latin America, the return of democracy has brought an upsurge in regime-centered analysis, and the growing dilemma of the twin demons - debt and drugs (items bi 90009423, bi 90009484, bi 88002491, and bi 89003451) - has also brought media attention and scholarly interest in these subjects. Nevertheless, other important subjects such as religion and politics (items bi 90009436), the role of the mass media (item bi 89005904), urban and rural politics, youth and the political system, and the role of women in politics (item bi 89005969) will need more research attention by political scientists during the 1990s.

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