Democratic Practice

Democratic Practice : Origins of the Iberian Divide in Political Inclusion

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At a time of growing concern over the fate of contemporary democracy this book shows how vast differences between countries in forms of political conduct, and taken for granted assumptions, determine what democracies actually accomplish. In Democratic Practice, Robert M. Fishman elucidates why some democracies include the economically underprivileged, and cultural others within the circles of political relevance that set policies and the political agenda,
whereas others exclude them. On the basis of in-depth research on Portugal and Spain, Fishman develops a theoretically innovative explanation for the breadth of democratic inclusion and draws out large implications for democracies everywhere. Democratic Practice examines the record of two countries that began
the worldwide turn to democracy in the 1970s, showing how and why basic assumptions about what democracy is, and how political actors should treat one another, diverged. The book offers detailed empirical evidence on how an inclusive approach to democratic politics provides major benefits not only for the poor and excluded but also for others, drawing large lessons for contemporary democracies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 160 x 239 x 22mm | 554g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 8 black and white line drawings
  • 0190912871
  • 9780190912871

Review quote

14/01/2019 Deftly combining insights from cultural, social, and political theory, Fishman moves beyond conventional wisdom in the field to develop a transformative account of the practical, institutional, and historical sources of truly inclusive forms of civic action in liberal polities. This work should be interest to all theorists, researchers, and practitioners interested in the future of democracy in the contemporary world." -Omar Lizardo, Professor and LeRoy Neiman
Term Chair, University of California, Los Angeles Fishman's study is one of the few substantive efforts to compare the impact of Spain's and Portugal's distinct democratic transitions on the subsequent practice of democracy in each country. In addition to making an important contribution to comparative Iberian studies, Fishman draws suggestive conclusions that will be relevant for broader current debates about the substance of democratic practice in the world today." -Pamela Radcliff, UC San Diego Many scholars have used a concept like "the quality of democracy" but few in so systematic a fashion. Drawing on path-breaking research and keen analyses, Robert Fishman convincingly shows how the political cultures of democratic Spain and Portugal were deeply shaped by the radically different paths that led these neighbors to democratize. This elegantly written and deeply original study shows us big contrasts in the policing of protest, the broad lines of economic
policy, the organization of the media, the goals of public education, and even the musical tastes of the Spanish and Portuguese. It turns out that it mattered a lot that Portugal was propelled into democracy by social revolution and Spain was to a significant degree steered towards democracy from
above. Fishman shows that in democratic Spain, political elites see protest as a problem to be managed, while in Portugal political elites understand protestors as citizens who need to be heard." -John Markoff, University of Pittsburgh Robert Fishman's superb book shows how distinct pathways to democracy have had powerful cultural legacies that account for enduring differences among countries-especially their political inclusiveness-following democratic transitions. Whether democratization was driven primarily 'from above' or 'from below' turns out to be particularly important. Fishman develops these ideas through a rich and fascinating comparison of Spain and Portugal." -Jeff Goodwin, New York
University After years of careful observation and original thinking on Portugal and Spain, Robert Fishman has written a fascinating book on the evolution of democracy in the two countries and their different degrees of inclusiveness. This is the comparative method at its best. The book will be a reference not only for those who study the Iberian countries, but also for those who care about the authenticity and depth of democracy more generally." -Ignacio Sanchez-Cuenca,
Director of the Carlos III-Juan March Institute of Social Sciences Distinguished political sociologist Robert Fishman reveals the power of cultural legacies in shaping democratic inclusiveness. Delving deeply into the divergent histories of Portuguese and Spanish democratization, he offers an innovative explanation of why similar formal institutions produce democracies of varying quality, depth, and capacity. This book transforms how we conceptualize and analyze democracy in Iberia and wherever it attempts to take root." -Margaret
Levi, Stanford University
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About Robert M. Fishman

Robert M. Fishman is CONEX-Marie Curie Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Madrid's Carlos III University. He works on democracy and democratization, social protest movements and political inclusion, culture and politics, and historical approaches to social science. His previous faculty positions were at the University of Notre Dame and at Harvard University.
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