As he systemically studies the barriers that Asian Americans face in the electoral and legislative processes, Thomas Kim shows how racism is embedded in America's two-party political system.Here Kim examines the institutional barriers that Asian Americans face in the electoral and legislative processes. Utilizing approaches from ethnic studies and political science, including rational choice theory, he demonstrates how the political logic of two-party competition actually works against Asian American political interests. According to Kim, political party leaders recognize that Asian Americans are tagged with "ethnic markers" that label them as immutably "foreign," and as such, parties cannot afford to be too closely associated with (racialized) Asian Americans. In publicly repudiating Asian American efforts to gain political power, Kim asserts, party elites are making rational, strategic calculations.Although other commentators have blamed the diversity of the Asian American population for its lack of political success, Kim argues convincingly that race itself is the chief barrier to political participation—and it will not be overcome simply by electing or appointing more Asian Americans to political office.
Relying on an astounding collection of more than three decades of firsthand research, Frank M. Bryan examines one of the purest forms of American democracy, the New England town meeting. At these meetings, usually held once a year, all eligible citizens of the town may become legislators; they meet in face-to-face assemblies, debate the issues on the agenda, and vote on them. And although these meetings are natural laboratories for democracy, very few scholars have systematically investigated them.
A nationally recognized expert on this topic, Bryan has now done just that. Studying 1,500 town meetings in his home state of Vermont, he and his students recorded a staggering amount of data about them—238,603 acts of participation by 63,140 citizens in 210 different towns. Drawing on this evidence as well as on evocative "witness" accounts—from casual observers to no lesser a light than Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—Bryan paints a vivid picture of how real democracy works. Among the many fascinating questions he explores: why attendance varies sharply with town size, how citizens resolve conflicts in open forums, and how men and women behave differently in town meetings. In the end, Bryan interprets this brand of local government to find evidence for its considerable staying power as the most authentic and meaningful form of direct democracy.
Giving us a rare glimpse into how democracy works in the real world, Bryan presents here an unorthodox and definitive book on this most cherished of American institutions.
Today’s democracies suffer from two mutually reinforcing ills: declining problem-solving capacities and a growing disconnect between the people and political elites. Reconstructing Democracy offers case studies in citizen efficacy, showing how people can solve problems locally and thereby quell the frustrations that demagogues prey on.
The 1980s were one of the most turbulent decades in Central America’s history, a history that has been marked by more than its share of strife and upheaval. The wars, economic hardship, and political unrest and instability that have dominated news of the region have been years in the making, the products of flawed and inequitable economic, social, and political structures. The International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development (ICCARD) was formed to provide a thorough diagnosis and analysis of Central America’s problems and to draft a comprehensive long-term strategy to move the region from decline to development. In this report ICCARD—through forty-five international experts in economics, public policy, management, and development it assembled for this purpose—attempts to rise above rhetoric and simplistic remedies to focus on well-reasoned, thorough, and realistic approaches to economic and social development. This volume reviews the unequal access of marginal groups to political and economic participation, the precarious situation of Central American financial institutions, the international debt situation, the prospects for regional political and economic integration, and other aspects of regional development. Each of these challenges is addressed by specific recommendations to the Central American governments, the governments of the industrialized nations, and international organizations.
In this counterintuitive study of digital democracy, Jen Schradie shows how the web has become another weapon in the arsenal of the powerful, and a potent weapon for conservative activists. Rather than leveling the playing field, the internet has tilted it in favor of the Right, where only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete.
Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico is an empirically rich history of women’s political organizing during a critical stage of regime consolidation. Rebutting the image of Mexican women as conservative and antirevolutionary, Jocelyn Olcott shows women activists challenging prevailing beliefs about the masculine foundations of citizenship. Piecing together material from national and regional archives, popular journalism, and oral histories, Olcott examines how women inhabited the conventionally manly role of citizen by weaving together its quotidian and formal traditions, drawing strategies from local political struggles and competing gender ideologies.
Olcott demonstrates an extraordinary grasp of the complexity of postrevolutionary Mexican politics, exploring the goals and outcomes of women’s organizing in Mexico City and the port city of Acapulco as well as in three rural locations: the southeastern state of Yucatán, the central state of Michoacán, and the northern region of the Comarca Lagunera. Combining the strengths of national and regional approaches, this comparative perspective sets in relief the specificities of citizenship as a lived experience.
Politicians and political parties are for the most part limited by habit—they recycle tried-and-true strategies, draw on models from the past, and mimic others in the present. But in rare moments politicians break with routine and try something new.
Drawing on pragmatist theories of social action, Revolutionizing Repertoires sets out to examine what happens when the repertoire of practices available to political actors is dramatically reconfigured. Taking as his case study the development of a distinctively Latin American style of populist mobilization, Robert S. Jansen analyzes the Peruvian presidential election of 1931. He finds that, ultimately, populist mobilization emerged in the country at this time because newly empowered outsiders recognized the limitations of routine political practice and understood how to modify, transpose, invent, and recombine practices in a whole new way. Suggesting striking parallels to the recent populist turn in global politics, Revolutionizing Repertoires offers new insights not only to historians of Peru but also to scholars of historical sociology and comparative politics, and to anyone interested in the social and political origins of populism.