Politics and Social Change in Latin America: Still a Distinct Tradition?

By Howard J. Wiarda; Margaret Macleish Mott | Go to book overview

Preface

This volume is different from the usual texts and collections dealing with Latin America: It has a central theme and focus. It is aimed at challenging our easy, often biased and ethnocentric ideas about Latin America, at stimulating our thinking, and at forcing us to reconsider our usual—and usually misconceived—interpretations of social change and political development in the Latin American context. No claim is made in these pages to having discovered that elusive, evolving concept called final truth; instead the book will have served its purpose if it stimulates, provokes, sometimes angers, and raises important questions and controversy for serious consideration.

The chapters in this book explore the distinct tradition of social change and political development in Latin America. Their unifying, integrating theme is the distinctive sociopolitical framework within which Latin American development takes place. The Latin American experience of development (and in parallel fashion that of Spain, Portugal, perhaps Italy, and some other countries as well) is subject to special imperatives of analysis and interpretation that the general, Western (that is, Northwest European and North American) literature on development and social change fails to provide. The main thrust of the book is toward an explanation of how and why Latin America fails to conform very well to our commonly known models of socioeconomic and political change; why policies and development strategies based on such ethnocentric models so often fail or produce unanticipated consequences; and what it is that makes the Latin American development experience so different. If you're interested in understanding such Latin American leaders and movements as, for example, Alberto Fujimori in Peru, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela,

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