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Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 373–401 | Cite as

The Crooked Line: From Populist Mobilization to Participatory Democracy in Chávez-Era Venezuela

  • Gabriel HetlandEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article challenges the widely held view that populist mobilization and participatory democracy are incompatible. Ethnographic data from Chávez-era Venezuela show that while populist mobilization cannot directly generate participatory democracy, it can set in motion a process that indirectly leads to this result: By creating but failing to fulfill expectations for participatory democracy and falling short in other ways, a poorly performing local populist regime can precipitate a grassroots backlash that, under certain circumstances, can lead to the election of a post-populist regime with the interest and ability to successfully implement participatory reform. My data show that this can occur in municipalities led by the Left or Center-Right, complicating the idea that successful participatory democracy requires a Left party.

Keywords

Participatory democracy Populist mobilization Venezuela Left Right 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article has benefitted from the generous feedback of Michael Burawoy, Peter Evans, Laura Enriquez, Dylan Riley, Adam Reich, Laleh Behbehanian, Marcel Paret, Emily Brisette, Lina Hu, Siri Colom, Abigail Andrews, Kendra Fehrer, Dan Buch, Simon Morfit, Erik Olin Wright, David Smilde, Archon Fung, Fred Block, David Ost, the UC Berkeley Sociology Department Latin America Working Group and three anonymous reviewers for Qualitative Sociology. The National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology provided financial assistance for this research.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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