Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy

By John A. Booth | Go to book overview

6
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

Classical democratic theory views citizen political participation as the essence of democracy. Formal democratic rules of the game specify the rights and protections of citizens that enable them to take part in ruling their community. The very structure of representative democracy, however, necessarily reduces citizen involvement in making and executing decisions even though citizens elect their leaders. Although participation is thus limited in a representative democracy like Costa Rica, the amount and nature of actual citizen activity nevertheless remains a critical aspect of democracy and its quality.

Democracy's success may also stem from civil society, from citizens' involvement in organizations. Belonging to groups may nurture both political participation and commitment to democracy. Moreover, the representation of citizens' interests through organizations may shape public policy, and vigorous civil society may improve government performance.1

This chapter explores the structure, level, and determinants of citizen participation in Costa Rica and the impact of civil society upon both participation and democratic norms.


Exploring Participation

One way to study political participation is through the use of survey research, specifically, by asking a representative sample of citizens whether they vote, contact public officials, and so on. Its political freedom has made Costa Rica a prime site for public opinion surveys, so considerable data exist on the types, levels, and

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Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Acronyms xvii
  • Preface xxi
  • 1 - Latin American Democracy and Costa Rica 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Contemporary Costa Rica In Central America 17
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - The Historical Development of Costa Rican Democracy 32
  • Notes 53
  • 4 - The Political Framework of Democracy 56
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - Social Structure and Civil Society 82
  • Notes 100
  • 6 - Political Participation 103
  • Notes 125
  • 7 - Political Culture 129
  • Notes 151
  • 8 - Political Economy in Transition 154
  • Notes 174
  • 9 - Costa Rica in the World 177
  • Conclusions 192
  • 10 - Analysi5 and Conclusions: Can Democracy Survive? 195
  • Notes 208
  • Appendix 211
  • Index 219
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