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Regime Support Beyond the Balance Sheet
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Book description

This book challenges the conventional wisdom that policy performance is the most important determinant of regime support. It does so by focusing on two countries where performance and support do not match. Chile is the economic envy of every country in Latin America, yet support has been surprisingly anemic. By contrast, Venezuela managed to maintain extremely high levels of support during the reign of Hugo Chávez despite severe failures of governance. Resolution of these paradoxes requires turning away from policy decisions and focusing instead on how those decisions are made. Taking inspiration from democratic theory and social psychology, this book argues that extensive opportunities for direct participation in the political process engenders in citizens strong feelings of efficacy - a sense of control over the course of politics. Rhodes-Purdy uses a mixed-methods approach to test this theory, including qualitative case studies, analysis of survey data, and experimental methods.

Reviews

'This book offers a bold challenge to conventional thinking about what democracies need to do to generate and maintain public support. Rhodes-Purdy draws from democratic theory and social psychology to argue that citizens expect more than policy effectiveness from their rulers; popular support also depends on opportunities to participate in collective decision-making processes. He employs an impressive array of methodological tools to develop and test his arguments, and his comparative analysis of Chile and Venezuela offers a novel interpretation of highly paradoxical cases. At a time when citizen disenchantment with even well-established democracies seems to be on the rise, Rhodes-Purdy provides a provocative and compelling case for why participation matters.'

Kenneth Roberts - Cornell University

'Why do citizens support their regimes? Conventional wisdom, dating back to Lipset, tells us that support is built by performance in response to citizen demands. Rhodes-Purdy turns conventional wisdom on its head, demonstrating via creative use of survey data from LAPOP's AmericasBarometer along with extensive qualitative data that a sense of efficacy and citizen self-governing participation matter far more than policy performance. Students as well as aspiring politicians will come away enlightened from reading this excellent, well-written book.'

Mitchell A. Seligson - Centennial Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University

'By analyzing the striking gaps between democratic performance and regime support in Chile and Venezuela, this outstanding, innovative book demonstrates the crucial role of opportunities for citizen participation. Through a multi-methods Comparative analysis, Rhodes-Purdy thus elucidates age-old questions of political theory. Highly recommended!'

Kurt Weyland - Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts, University of Texas, Austin

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