Mexico City is practically the world's largest city, and its enormity is evident in the sprawl, traffic congestion, pollution, and urban service scarcities that plague its residents. In a scant three decades between 1940 and 1970, the population of Mexico City proper increased 345 percent, while the metropolitan area as a whole grew by 424 percent.
Since Robert Dahl's seminal writings on democracy more than two decades ago, interest in the topic has emerged again, especially among scholars analyzing democratic transitions. Great strides have been made in revealing the uncertain nature of these transitions (O'Donnell et al. 1986; Malloy and Seligson 1987; Diamond, Linz, and Lipset 1989; Hakim and Lowenthal 1991; O'Donnell 1994), in methodologically analyzing them as contested and “crafted” rather than spontaneous (Di Palma 1990), and in documenting the class and social forces that make democratic outcomes more likely (Rueschemeyer, Stephens, and Stephens 1992; see also Moore 1966). Despite these advances, there has been little change in our theoretical understanding of democracy. As Bruce Cumings has perceptively noted, recent studies of democratic transition have “given way to atheoretical and idiosyncratic explanations of more or less successful democratic ‘openings’” in which little time is spent elaborating “the decision rule for saying this person is hard-line or soft-line, that system is ‘liberalized autocracy’ instead of ‘limited democracy,’” or for defining democracy itself. If scholars do bring theory into their writings “through the back door of the obscure but telling footnote,” he observes, “rather than advancing their own conception of democracy, [they] uniformly define democracy by reference to Robert Dahl's Polyarchy, a classic pluralist account of the North American system” (Cumings 1989:15–17).
Over the last decade or so, North American and European scholars have popularised a research focus on new social movements, or so-called autonomous and democratic struggles generated from within civil society against the state. The underlying theoretical premise of this approach is that challenges to the state from social movements are a principal driving force of political change in modern society. Despite its grounding in the advanced capitalist context, many Latin American scholars have found elective affinity with the argument, as evidenced in the recent tidal wave of studies on social movements by Latin Americanists. Basing their work primarily on analyses of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, scholars have argued that social movements help challenge the legitimacy and political power of strong and centralised governments in Latin America, at the same time creating from the grassroots a political culture suggestive of democratic transformation. In sort, there is growing consensus that social movements play a central role in bringing democracy to Latin America.
On a défini la démocratie comme "la capacité qu'ont les gouvernements de répondre aux préférences des citoyens considérés politiquement égaux," la condition en est l'accès des citoyens des institutions et des pratiques permettant la libre de ces préférences ainsi que leur participation aux décisions publiques visant satisfaire. Quant à spécifier quelles devraient être ces institutions, les spécialistes ont limité leur choix à celles que partagent un certain nombre de nations d'Europe occidentale et d'Amérique du Nord, c'est à dire, la compétition électorale et les droits individuels qui leur sont associés, comme la liberté d'expression et d'association ou le suffrage universel.
El trabajo propone un estudio histórico detallado de las condiciones para el ejercicio de la ciudadanía en regímenes en los que la democracia no se ha desarrollado por completo. Esto es, que carecen de algunas instituciones democráticas pero que cuentan, sin embai;go, con formas de participación democrática. México fue seleccionado como un ejemplo paradigmático, siguiendo una versión modificada del modelo de Robert Dahl, que propone la interacción entre formas de participación y expresión de demandas ciudadanas con las respuestas gubernamentales a dichas demanckis. El estudio comprende el período que va de la etapa inmediatamente posteríor a la constitución postrevolucionaría del presente régimen, hasta su presente situación de crísis, como consecuencia del desmantelamiento de las estructuras corporativas de respuesta a las demandas de la población. Concluye con una valoración del carácter democrático o autorítarío del régimen así como con algunas observaciones acerca de las posibilidades para el futuro de la democracia en México.
Why has Mexico City, once known as the city of palaces, turned into a sea of people, poverty, and pollution? Through historical analysis of Mexico City, this book identifies political actors responsible for the uncontrolled industrialization of Mexico's economic and social center, its capital city. This narrative biography takes a perspective rarely found in studies of third-world urban development, and demonstrates how and why local politics can run counter to rational politics, yet become enmeshed, spawning ineffective policies that are detrimental to the city and the nation.The competing social and economic demand of the working poor and middle classes and the desires of Mexico's ruling Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) have led to gravely diminished services, exorbitant infrastructural expenditures, and counter-productive use of geographic space. Though Mexico City's urban transport system has evolved over the past seven decades from trolley to bus to METRO (subway), it fails to meet the needs of the population, despite its costliness, and is indicative of the city's disastrous and ill-directed overdevelopment. Examining the political forces behind the thwarted attempts to provide transportation in the downtown and sprawling outer residential areas, this study analyzes the maneuverings of local and national politicians, foreign investors, middle classes, agency bureaucrats, and various factions of the PRI. Looking to Mexico's future, the book concludes that growing popular dissatisfaction and frequent urban protests demanding both democratic reform and administrative autonomy in the capital city suggest an unstable future for corporatist politics and the PRI's centralized one-party government.
Does the causal relationship between economic crisis and greater state autonomy so widely accepted in the advanced capitalist context hold for Latin America and, in particular, for Mexico? Despite ongoing debates over the bases of state autonomy and its political or theoretical implications, the claim that fiscal crisis facilitates greater autonomy is one of the few propositions to generate relative consensus from both state-centered and classcentered theorists of the advanced capitalist world. In the literature on Latin America, however, there is much less consensus about state autonomy, a concept which generally refers to the policy capacity of state bureaucrats to act independently of class pressures, especially the demands of the capitalist class.