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Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times : The Citizenry and the Breakdown of Democracy - Nancy Bermeo

Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times

The Citizenry and the Breakdown of Democracy

Paperback Published: 10th August 2003
ISBN: 9780691089706
Number Of Pages: 288

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For generations, influential thinkers--often citing the tragic polarization that took place during Germany's Great Depression--have suspected that people's loyalty to democratic institutions erodes under pressure and that citizens gravitate toward antidemocratic extremes in times of political and economic crisis. But do people really defect from democracy when times get tough? Do ordinary people play a leading role in the collapse of popular government?

Based on extensive research, this book overturns the common wisdom. It shows that the German experience was exceptional, that people's affinity for particular political positions are surprisingly stable, and that what is often labeled polarization is the result not of vote switching but of such factors as expansion of the franchise, elite defections, and the mobilization of new voters. Democratic collapses are caused less by changes in popular preferences than by the actions of political elites who polarize themselves and mistake the actions of a few for the preferences of the many. These conclusions are drawn from the study of twenty cases, including every democracy that collapsed in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in interwar Europe, every South American democracy that fell to the Right after the Cuban Revolution, and three democracies that avoided breakdown despite serious economic and political challenges.

Unique in its historical and regional scope, this book offers unsettling but important lessons about civil society and regime change--and about the paths to democratic consolidation today.

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2005 Winner of the 2003 Best Book On Democratization "[An] outstanding contribution to theory and policy... Highly readable, informative, and intelligible."--Choice "This impressive and engaging book ... is an exemplary work of comparative politics. It is elegantly written, and contains innovative theoretical arguments, sound historical research, and broad compelling empirical comparisons."--Marc Morje Howard, Political Science Quarterly "Nancy Bermeo's wide-ranging and scholarly study of seventeen modern democracies which have failed tracks the behavior of ordinary democratic citizens during the critical periods and makes the case that most of them remained loyal to the democratic process, even at the worst of times."--Ian Johnston, Humanist Perspectives

List of Figuresp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Our Literature and Interwar Europep. 1
Heroes or Villains? Images of Citizens and Civil Society in the Literature on Democracyp. 7
Ordinary People and the Breakdown of Democracy in Interwar Europep. 21
South America and Our Literature Revisedp. 65
The Reluctant Coup in Brazilp. 69
The Slow-Motion Coup in Uruguayp. 100
The Tragedy of Democracy in Chilep. 138
The Violent Death of Democracy in Argentinap. 177
Polarization and the Ignorance of Elitesp. 221
Indexp. 257
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691089706
ISBN-10: 0691089701
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 10th August 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.41