Defying Expectations. Associational Participation and Democratization in Poor Communities in Argentina
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Alexis de Tocqueville noted that the key to democracy is “knowledge of how to combine.” This book focuses on the following question: can participation in associations facilitate democracy within the communities in which they exist even if such associations are not democratic –- i.e., vertical, hierarchical organizations. To consider this question, this book explores a poor community’s transition from a sparse to a highly developed associational space, and examines the impact of this process of democratization on social relations (between leaders, participants, and non-participants). Specifically, it compares three different associational settings in a barrio in Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina -- i.e., a non-governmental organization, a religious network, and a political party network. It analyzes the interplays between inclusion and exclusion; solidarity and generalized distrust; and inequality and protagonism. Ultimately, this book demonstrates how the configuration of social relations serves to legitimate and reproduce civic life in poor communities.
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