Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Government, Colby College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, University of California / Berkeley
Designing Democracy: National Participatory Governance Frameworks in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia

Since the 1980s, countries throughout Latin America have passed national laws mandating the creation of participatory government councils (PGCs), which are formal institutional arenas that engage representatives from society in designing, approving, and monitoring public policy. PGCs devolve policymaking authority to societal actors and appear to limit the resources of politicians, leading to the fundamental question: why would rational politicians support a national PGC framework? More specifically, why do national politicians elect to establish a national framework for PGCs? And furthermore, in the cases where a PGC framework is established, when do national politicians reproduce this framework by strengthening the authority of PGCs? My project examines the cases of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, and constitutes the first cross-national comparative study of national PGC frameworks in Latin America. I argue that rational politicians will only support legislation for the production or reproduction of PGCs when doing so benefits them in some way. Therefore, my research will examine the potential rationales that would lead national politicians to support a national PGC framework, and explores why these different rationales are salient in producing and reproducing a national PGC framework in some contexts but not others. My field research will involve three types of data collection: interviews with national legislators, party leaders, and PGC activists; gathering of archival materials on proposed PGC legislation; and collection of quantitative data on electoral politics and PGC implementation in Brazil.