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What do ordinary citizens in developing countries think about free markets? Conventional wisdom views globalization as an imposition on unwilling workers in developing nations, concluding that the recent rise of the Latin American left constitutes a popular backlash against the market. Andy Baker marshals public opinion data from eighteen Latin American countries to show that most of the region's citizens are enthusiastic about globalization because it has lowered the prices of many consumer goods and services while improving their variety and quality. Among recent free-market reforms, only privatization has caused pervasive discontent because it has raised prices for services like electricity and telecommunications. Citizens' sharp awareness of these consumer consequences informs Baker's argument that a new political economy of consumption has replaced a previously dominant politics of labor and class in Latin America. Baker’s research clarifies the sources of voters' connection to new leftwing parties and helps account for their leaders' moderation and nuanced approach to economic policy, embracing globalization while stalling or reversing privatization.Read more
- Analyzes new and rarely used survey data from eighteen Latin American countries over a two-decade span
- Touches on interesting contemporary topics that include the economics and impact of globalization, the rise of left-of-center presidents in Latin America, the degree to which politicians can shape public opinion, and the relevance of social class to political cleavages in Latin America
- Develops a new political economy theory of the role of consumer interests in shaping economic policy preferences and political cleavages
Reviews & endorsements
"This fine study provides a comprehensive analysis of the way mass publics in Latin America view market reforms. Andy Baker shows that people are inclined to evaluate trade liberalization quite differently from privatization, and he argues persuasively that such judgments are based not on their assets or their position in the labor market but on consumer interests and 'top-down' appeals by competing political elites. This is a book that is very timely in terms of current issues facing Latin America. It will be of considerable interest to Latin American specialists, to people with more general interests in the politics of market reform, and to students of political economy."
Robert Kaufman, Rutgers UniversitySee more reviews
"This book is a major contribution to the study of the politics of market reform in Latin America. Baker develops a consumption-based theory of mass attitudes towards market liberalization, and he employs survey data and rigorous analytical tools to explain why citizens support some types of market reforms - namely, free trade - but oppose others, particularly the privatization of public utilities and state-owned enterprises. Although patterns of support and opposition are shaped by pragmatic considerations of material interests, what matters is not the impact of reforms on labor markets and employment opportunities, but rather their impact on prices, quality, and the availability of goods and services. This consumption-based theory sheds new light on a series of important questions that have perplexed scholars who study the political economy of development, including the sources of public support for market liberalization, the erosion of class cleavages in the political arena, and the potential social bases of new popular movements that contest the neoliberal model. This book is a must-read for any scholar who seeks to understand these questions."
Kenneth Roberts, Cornell University
"This book makes an important statement about how scholars and policymakers should understand the influence of public opinion on economic policy in Latin America. Baker provides a convincing explanation for why Latin Americans like free trade but dislike privatization: in the contemporary era, citizens across Latin America should be thought of as consumers, rather than as part of a system of economic production. The innovative application of the 'consumerist' theory Baker offers has wide-ranging implications for understanding the politics of economic reform across Latin America."
David Samuels, University of Minnesota
"Andy Baker’s sophisticated and well-researched book develops an innovative consumer-oriented argument to explain the surprising fact that a majority of Latin Americans does not categorically reject 'neoliberalism', but actually supports free trade. The theoretical discussion, analysis of region-wide surveys, and case study of Brazil are impressive."
Kurt Weyland, University of Texas at Austin
"Andy Baker’s book is a notable example of how research on polling and public opinion can make sharp, original contributions to the study of both politics (action) and policies (applied knowledge). His inquiry into popular and elite opinions and discourses regarding the free-market policies of the so-called Washington Consensus - implemented throughout Latin America in the 1990s and part of the 2000s - uses a sophisticated methodology to test hypotheses in empirical settings, particularly Brazil."
Francisco E. González, Johns Hopkins University, Latin American Research Review
"Andy Baker has written an impressive study of political economy and a pioneering work of public opinion formation in Latin America. [He] marshals an abundance of survey evidence in support of the theoretical claim that Latin Americans cast ballots as consumers, not as producers."
Fabrice Lehoucq, Bulletin of Latin American Research
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- Date Published: March 2009
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521899680
- length: 356 pages
- dimensions: 234 x 160 x 28 mm
- weight: 0.6kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. Introduction and Theory:
1. Consuming the Washington consensus
2. Theoretical framework: the top-down and bottom-up sources of public opinion
Part II. Mass Beliefs about Market Policies in Latin America:
3. The economic consequences and elite rhetoric of market reform in Latin America
4. Are Latin Americans neoliberals?
5. Are the poor neoliberals?
Part III. Mass Support for Reform in Brazil:
6. The economic consequences and elite rhetoric of market reform in Brazil
7. How many Brazilians support market reforms?
8. Which Brazilians support market reforms?
Part IV. Conclusion:
9. The politics of consumismo in Latin America.
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