Civil sphere and democracy in Latin America
(Introductory comment by Viktor Stepanenko)
stmm. 2020 (1): 23-40
Jeffrey C. Alexander - Professor of Sociology and co-Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University (New Haven, USA).
Carlo Tognato - Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Director of the Center for Social Studies, National University of Colombia (Bogotá D.C., Colombia).
ORCID https://orcid.org/ 0000-0003-0505-4246
Abstract. The purpose of the article is to demonstrate that the civil spheres of Latin America remain in force, even when under threat, and to expand the method of theorizing democracy, understanding it not only as a state form, but also as a way of life. Moreover, the task of the authors goes beyond the purely application of the theory of the civil sphere in order to emphasize the relevance not only in practice, but also in the theory of democratic culture and institutions of Latin America. This task requires decolonizing the arrogant attitude of North theorists towards democratic processes outside the United States and Europe. The peculiarities of civil spheres in Latin America are emphasized. It is argued that over the course of the nineteenth century the non-civil institutions and value spheres that surrounded civil spheres deeply compromised them. The problems of development that pockmarked Latin America — lagging economies, racial and ethnic and class stratification, religious strife — were invariably filtered through the cultural aspirations and institutional patterns of civil spheres. The appeal of the theory of the civil sphere to the experience of Latin America reveals the ambitious nature of civil society and democracy on new and stronger foundations. Civil spheres had extended significantly as citizens confronted uncomfortable facts, collectively searched for solutions, and envisioned new courses of collective action. However when populism and authoritarianism advance, civil understandings of legitimacy come under pressure from alternative, anti-democratic conceptions of motives, social relations, and political institutions. In these times, a fine-grained understanding of the competitive dynamics between civil, non-civil, and anti-civil becomes particularly critical. Such a vision is constructively applied not only to the realities of Latin America, but also in a wider global context. The authors argue that in order to understand the realities and the limits of populism and polarization, civil sphere scholars need to dive straight into the everyday life of civil communities, setting the civil sphere theory (CST) in a more ethnographic, “anthropological” mode.
Keywords: civil sphere, civility, democracy, Latin America.
Alexander, J. C. (2006). The Civil Sphere. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Alexander, J. C. (2013). The Promise and Contradictions of Axiality. Sociologica, 1 (January–April).
Arana, M. (2013). Bolivar: American Liberator. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Arias, E. D., Goldstein, D. M. (Eds.), (2010a). Violent Democracies in Latin America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Arias, E. D., Goldstein, D. M. (2010b). Violent Pluralism: Understanding the New Democracies in Latin America. In: E. D. Arias, D. M. Goldstein (Eds.), Violent Democracies in Latin America (pp. 1–34). Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822392033-001
Bellah, R. N. (2011). Religion and Human Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Brysk, A. (2000). Democratizing Civil Society in Latin America. Journal of Democracy, 11 (3),151–165. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2000.0049
Bushnell, D. (1985). The Independence of Spanish South America. In: L. Bethell (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Latin America (vol. III, pp. 95–15). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/chol9780521232241.004
de Souza Santos, B. (2005). Reinventar la democracia: Reinventar el Estado. Buenos Aires: Consejo Latino-americano de Ciencias Sociales.
Dewey, J. ( 1966). Democracy and Education. New York, NY: Free Press.
Diamond, L. (1999). Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Domingues, J. M.. (2008). Latin America and Contemporary Modernity: A Sociological Interpretation. New York, NY: Routledge.
Domingues, J. M. (2009). Global Modernization, ‘Coloniality’ and a Critical Sociology of Contemporary Latin America. Theory, Culture, Society, 26 (1), 112–133. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276408099018
Dundjerovic, A., Bateman, I. N. (2006). Antanas Mockus’s Cultura Ciudadana: Theatrical Acts for Cultural Change in Bogota, Colombia. Contemporary Theatre Review, 16 (4), 457–467. https://doi.org/10.1080/10486800600924059
Eisenstadt, Sh. N. (1982). The Axial Age: The Emergence of Transcendental Visions and the Rise of Clerics. European Journal of Sociology, 23 (2), 299–314. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0003975600003908
Fischer, E. F. (Ed.), (2009). Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neo-Liberal State in Latin America. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.
Forment, C. A. (2003). Democracy in Latin America, 1760–1900. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Germani, G. (1981). The Sociology of Modernization: Studies on Its Historical and Theoretical Aspects with Special Regard to the Latin American Case. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.
Gilbert, A., Dávila, J. (2002). Bogotá: Progress within a Hostile Environment. In: J. M. David, H. A. Dietz (Eds.), Capital City Politics in Latin America: Democratization and Empowerment (pp. 29–64). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511791116.012
Hagopian, F. (2005). Conclusion: Government Performance, Political Representation, and Public Perceptions of Contemporary Democracy in Latin America. In: F. Hagopian, S. P. Mainwaring (Eds.), The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks (pp. 319–362). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Hagopian, F., Mainwaring, S. P. (Eds.), (2005). The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511791116.001
Hagopian, F., Mainwaring, S. P. (2005). Introduction: The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America. In: F. Hagopian, S. P. Mainwaring (Eds.), The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks (pp. 1–13). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511791116.001
Hawkins, K. A., Hansen, D. R. (2006). Dependent Civil Society: The Círculos Bolivarianos in Venezuela. Latin American Research Review, 41 (1), 102–132. https://doi.org/10.1353/lar.2006.0008
Hoelscher, K., Nussio, E. (2016). Understanding Unlikely Successes in Urban Violence Reduction. Urban Studies, 53 (1), 2397–2416. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098015589892
Holmes, J. S. (2009). Democratic Consolidation in Latin America? In: R. L. Millett, J. S. Holmes, O. J. Perez (Eds.), Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species? (pp. 5–20). New York, NY: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0022216x12000879
Huntington, S. (1998). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Kurlantzick, J. (2013). Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Larrain, J. (2000). Identity and Modernity in Latin America. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Lynch, J. (1973). The Spanish American Revolutions, 1808–1826. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Lynch, J. (1985). The Origins of Spanish American Independence. In: L. Bethell (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Latin America (vol. III, pp. 3–50). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/chol9780521232241.002
Mallén, A. L., Encinas, M. J. G. (2013). A Rude Awakening: The Underside of Venezuela’s Civil Society in the Time of Hugo Chávez. Politeja — Pismo Wydzialu Studiow Miedzynarodowych i Politycznych Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego, 24,141–162. https://doi.org/10.12797/politeja.10.2013.24.10
Martin-Barbero, J. (2017). Bogotá: Between the Violence of Chaos and Civic Creativity. In: C. Tognato (Ed.), Cultural Agents Reloaded: The Legacy of Antanas Mockus (pp. 277–292). Cambridge, MA: The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Mignolo, W. D. (1995). The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.8739
Mignolo, W. D. (2005). The Idea of Latin America. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Moscareño, A., Chernilo, D. (2009). Obstacles and Perspectives of Latin American Sociology: Normative Universalism and Functional Differentiation. Soziale Systeme, 15 (1), 72–96. https://doi.org/10.1515/sosys-2009-0107
Narvaez-Goldstein, M. (2002–2003). L’éthique de la discussion au service d’une nouvelle politique de la ville: l’expérience de Antanas Mockus à la mairie de Bogota (1995–1997). Quaderni: La revue de la communication, 49, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.3406/quad.2002.1570
Nogueira de Oliveira, M. (2009). Ethics and Citizenship Culture in Bogotá’s Urban Administration. The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review, 41 (1),1–17.
O’Donnell, G., Schmitter, Ph. C. (1986). Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Part IV. In: G. O’Connell, Ph. C. Schmitter (Eds.), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy (pp. 1–78). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-90400-9_90
Oxhorn, Ph. (2017). Civil Society from the Inside Out: Community, Organization and the Challenge of Political Influence. In: G. Yovanovich, R. Rice (Eds.), Re-Imagining Community and Civil Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (pp. 20–46). New York, NY: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315530895
Pasotti, E. (2009). Political Branding in Cities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Paz, O. (1961). The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Perez, O. J. (2009). Measuring Democratic Political Culture in Latin America. In: R. L. Millett, J. S. Holmes, O. J. Perez (Eds.), Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species? (pp. 21–40). New York, NY: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0022216x12000879
Sanchez, M. R. (2011). Review of E. D. Arias and D. M. Goldstein (eds.), Violent Democracies in Latin America. American Journal of Sociology, 116 (6), 2042–2045.
Sommer, D. (2017). ‘Por Amor al Arte’: Haber-Mockus Plays with the Possible. In: C. Tognato (Ed.), Cultural Agents Reloaded: The Legacy of Antanas Mockus (pp. 249–274). Cambridge, MA: The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Taylor, S. L. (2011). Review of E. D. Arias and D. M. Goldstein (eds.), Violent Democracies in Latin America. Perspectives on Politics, 9 (4), 892–893. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1537592711003768
Touraine, A. (1997). What Is Democracy? Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Veliz, C. (1994). The New World of the Gothic Fox: Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/101.2.453
Yovanovich, G., R. Rice (Eds.), (2017). Re-Imagining Community and Civil Society in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York, NY: Routledge.