Democratization: Theory and Experience

By Laurence Whitehead | Go to book overview

7 On Citizen Security

Upon the impartial administration of justice depends the liberty of every individual, the sense he has of his own security.'

(Adam Smith)

The caesura between the minimum requirements of democratic theory and even the very best performance of 'really existing' democracies provides an organizing framework for this whole volume. Nowhere is this more striking than in the area of citizen security. Much theorizing—not only about democracy but also about democratization—takes the basic security of the median citizen as a datum, a presupposition upon which liberal and constitutional systems can be founded, rather than as a problematic social construction. This chapter reviews the theoretical issues, both from a traditional rule of law standpoint and in the light of more 'sociological' approaches to the question of citizenship. It then presents case studies from Latin America to demonstrate the gap between theory and experience, and concludes by drawing out the implications for our understanding of democratization.

Standard political theory holds that in a democracy all citizens should have a voice on public affairs. Although not obliged to participate, if something concerns them they have the right to be heard by those in authority; and to ensure that their concerns are taken seriously they can even choose to change their rulers at predetermined intervals. there is a counterpart to this right to be heard: all citizens in a democracy are also subject to constraint. In liberal constitutional theory, which antedates democratic theory, citizens are viewed as individual agents with consequent equality of rights and responsibilities before the law. The rule of law protects critical aspects of their personal and collective security, and in return they are obliged to abide by its provisions. The following two paragraphs from Samuel Pufendorf's 1673 treatise convey a sense of the balance involved in classical rule of law doctrines:

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Democratization: Theory and Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford Studies in Democratization ii
  • Democratization iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: On 'Democracy' and 'Democratization' 6
  • 2: The Drama of Democratic Transitions 36
  • 3: On Civil Society 65
  • 4: On Accountability and Institutional Design 90
  • 5: On Political Corruption 115
  • 6: On Monetary Authority 136
  • 7: On Citizen Security 165
  • 8: On Comparing Democratization Processes 186
  • 9: An Exemplary Case: Chile 213
  • 10: On Theory and Experience in Democratization Studies 237
  • Annex 271
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 287
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