Civil Society and Democracy in Latin America Some Comparative Observations

S.N. EISENSTADT

Abstract


Concern with the nature and characteristics of civil society has increased greatly of late, in line with the growing tendency towards democratisation in many parts of the world - in Latin America, Asia, Taiwan, and Korea - and, above all, with the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. It has been widely assumed that the successful institutionalisation of a constitutional democratic regime is dependent on the existence and development of civil society, or that the existence of certain such nuclei is a prerequisite for the democratisation of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Such an assumption, the validity of which, of course, must be critically assessed, demands a more thorough examination of the concept of civil society, or rather, of the reality which this concept purports to describe and its bearing on transitions to democracy and on the possible institutionalisation of constitutional democratic regimes.

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