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Forging Democracy from Below
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  • 17 b/w illus. 4 tables
  • Page extent: 274 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.41 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 320.968
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: JQ1981 .W66 2000
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Political participation--South Africa
    • Political participation--El Salvador
    • Democracy--South Africa
    • Democracy--El Salvador

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521788878 | ISBN-10: 0521788870)

DOI: 10.2277/0521788870

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published December 2000

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 17:01 GMT, 25 November 2015)


The recent replacement of authoritarian rule by democracy in both South Africa and El Salvador poses a puzzle: why did the powerful and fervently anti-democratic elites of these countries abandon death squads, apartheid, and the other tools of political repression and take a chance on democracy? Forging Democracy from Below, first published in 2000, shows how popular mobilization - in El Salvador an effective guerilla army supported by peasant collaboration and in South Africa a powerful alliance of labor unions and poor urban dwellers - eventually forced the elite to the bargaining table, and why both a durable settlement and democratic government were the result. Using interviews with both insurgent and elite actors as well as statistical analysis of macroeconomic developments, Elisabeth Wood documents an 'insurgent path to democracy' and challenges the view that democracy is the result of compromise among elite factions or the modernizing influence of economic development.

• Unusual cross-comparison of very different cases • Combines political economy with field research


Introduction; 1. From civil war to democracy: improbable transitions in oligarchic societies; Part I. El Salvador's Path to Democracy: 2. From conservative modernization to civil war; 3. The structural foundation of a pact: the transformation of elite interests; 4. Negotiating a democratic transition to end civil war; Part II. From Racial Oligarchy to Pluralist Democracy in South Africa: 5. Apartheid, conservative modernization, and resistance; 6. The challenge to elite economic interests; 7. From recalcitrance to compromise; Conclusion; 8. The insurgent path to democracy in oligarchic societies; Epilogue: the legacy of democracy forged from below.

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