Latin American Democracies: Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela

Latin American Democracies: Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela

Latin American Democracies: Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela

Latin American Democracies: Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela


Using the cases of Columbia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela, Peeler compares the evolution and maintenance of liberal democratic regimes in the Latin American context. These regimes are shown to be products of the normal Latin American political processes, under particular conditions that have permitted accommodation between rival political and economic elites. The author argues that these liberal democracies are fundamentally similar to those in other parts of the world.

Originally published in 1985.


This study is written in the spirit of the postbehavioral movement in political science. Probably the most important characteristic of this movement is its insistence on the inevitability and desirability of a concern with values in the study of society and politics. On one hand, postbehavioralism insists that even the most ostensibly "objective" research has value implications of which the researcher should be conscious, implications related to the choice of subject and method, the interpretation of data, the character of models, and the use of results. Critics have charged behavioralist political science with an often unwitting defense of injustice in the guise of empirical generalizations (see, for example, McCoy and Playford, 1967). On the other hand, postbehavioralists have insisted that a value commitment to justice or human liberation is not only an inevitable attribute of social science research but a desirable one (for example, Bay, 1965).

The critical theory of Jürgen Habermas represents the most sophisticated elaboration of the approach to social science research exemplified by postbehavioralism (see Habermas, 1971, particularly the appendix, pp. 301-17; and Bernstein, 1976, pt. 4). It would be presumptuous to say that this book systematically follows Habermas, but certainly my reading of Habermas (and Bernstein) has been exceedingly influential in shaping my conception of the task and proper conduct of social science research.

Key aspects of Habermas's thought can be presented here only in the most schematic form -- the interested reader should refer to the cited texts. He argues that all knowledge is constituted by some human interest: inquiry in pursuit of knowledge is possible insofar as it is related to one of three problems of human existence. Empirical-analytical inquiry . . .

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