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The Quality of Democracy
Theory and Applications
288 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268037208 | October 2004
Hardcover | 9780268037192 | October 2004
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268160678 | December 2016
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268160685 | December 2016
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- Press Kit
- Author Bio
In 1996, Guillermo O’Donnell taught a seminar at the University of Notre Dame on democratic theory. One of the questions explored in this class was whether it is possible to define and determine the “quality” of democracy. Jorge Vargas Cullell, a student in this course, returned to his native country of Costa Rica, formed a small research team, and secured funding for undertaking a “citizen audit” of the quality of democracy in Costa Rica. This pathbreaking volume contains O’Donnell’s qualitative theoretical study of the quality of democracy and Vargas Cullell’s description and analysis of the empirical data he gathered on the quality of democracy in Costa Rica. It also includes twelve short, scholarly reflections on the O’Donnell and Cullell essays.
The primary goal of this collection is to present the rationale and methodology for implementing a citizen audit of democracy. This book is an expression of a growing concern among policy experts and academics that the recent emergence of numerous democratic regimes, particularly in Latin America, cannot conceal the sobering fact that the efficacy and impact of these new governments vary widely. These variations, which range from acceptable to dismal, have serious consequences for the people of Latin America, many of whom have received few if any benefits from democratization. Attempts to gauge the quality of particular democracies are therefore not only fascinating intellectual exercises but may also be useful practical guides for improving both old and new democracies.
This book will make important strides in addressing the increasing practical and academic concerns about the quality of democracy. It will be required reading for political scientists, policy analysts, and Latin Americanists.
Guillermo O'Donnell was the Helen Kellogg Professor of Government and International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Counterpoints and co-editor of Poverty and Inequality in Latin America and The (Un)Rule of Law and the Underprivileged in Latin America, all published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Jorge Vargas Cullell is coordinator of the Citizen Audit on the Quality of Democracy in Costa Rica and assistant director of the annual report on the State of the Nation, Costa Rica.
Osvaldo M. Iazzetta is professor in the School of Political Science and a member of the Research Council at the National University of Rosario, Argentina.
"This book deserves to be carefully read by anyone interested in democracy, and especially democracy in Latin America. Its main innovations are probably methodological and empirical rather than theoretical. . . . [T]he book will probably stimulate fruitful arguments about whether or not we need to re-evaluate Latin American democracies in light of the notion of democratic quality. It is a challenging, important, and complex volume." —The Americas
"The primary goal of this unique and compelling book is to provide the theoretical and empirical foundations for what the authors hope will be a new wave of interest in the quality of democracy." —Perspectives on Politics
"...striking individual insights...."—Political Studies Review
“O'Donnell fundamentally re-envisions the term 'democracy,' no longer the once ubiquitous-now automatically assumed-polyarchy, but something that draws on literature on democracy, human development, and human rights to produce a radically new definition. Each of these areas, O'Donnell argues, bases its claims on the idea of human agency.” —Latin American Research Review
“Guillermo O'Donnell is one of the most prominent contemporary political scientists. His work will have a major impact on rethinking the relationship between democracy, the state, and human development. He calls for a profound rethinking of the state’s role in democratic theory and in human development.” —Scott Mainwaring, University of Notre Dame