Strategic Choice Models of Political Change in Latin America
Comparative Politics, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 229-243, January 1992
15 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2011 Last revised: 25 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 1, 1992
The article assesses the use of strategic choice models in the study of Latin American politics. These models explore how given actors pursue goals by shaping the context in which other actors make choices. The discussion centers on Hirschman’s analysis of “reform-mongering,” Przeworski’s “threshold” model of transitions to democracy, and O’Donnell’s model of democratic consolidation. Basic components of the models are examined, including the definition of actors, preference distributions, coalitional thresholds, perceptions of the likelihood of given outcomes, and efforts to change actual and perceived costs of these outcomes. The relationship between such models and more familiar perspectives in the Latin American field is then explored. The models have a distinctive emphasis on uncertainty and the creative use of uncertainty by political leaders; yet they also have much in common with other research traditions. The article advocates eclecticism in employing these alternative analytic approaches.
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