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Volume 61 / Social Sciences


DAVID W. DENT, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Towson University

TRENDS IN THE STUDY OF Latin American government and politics suggest that themes from the past—civil-military relations, democratic transformation, party systems, electoral systems, and group-based politics—continue to dominate the literature from the region. While theory-building continues and comparative studies expand, new political institutions and processes deserve more attention.

The importance of civil-military relations in the future of Latin American democracies is explored in items #bi2001003364# and #bi2003000647#. The emphasis on democratic consolidation and regime classification treated in items #bi2002005339# and #bi2002004459# reveals interesting efforts to map out the contours of democratic and authoritarian regimes in Latin America.

A number of works examine group-based politics, offering valuable insights (items #bi2002002209#, #bi2002002198#, #bi2001007621#, and #bi2003000924#). In a rare piece of academic work from the People's Republic of China (item #bi2003000171#), the authors examine Latin American communist parties and the relationship between the Communist Party of China and communist parties in Latin America. Given the growing importance of civil society and group-based challenges to the state, future research should continue to explore and explain these new relationships.

Globalization received less attention in this biennium compared to others, but continues to be a subject of importance to the study of Latin American politics. While it is unlikely that Latin American military institutions will replace weakly consolidated democratic regimes in the near future, authoritarian options will continue to play a role in the political process. This pattern is most evident in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. The "global war on terrorism," President George W. Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine, and the desire for increased trade with the US will require more research on the role of Washington in the political process—democratic or authoritarian.

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