Political Science

In 1986, J. Glass argued that a parent’s political orientation is the strongest determining factor in predicting a child’s future political preferences (i.e., most (or many) Republicans grew up in Republican-leaning households and most (or many) Democrats grew up in Democrat-leaning households). See Attitude similarity in three-generational families: Socialization, status inheritance, or reciprocal influence? American Sociological Review, Vol 51, 685-698 (1986). You can access the article using the hyperlink below. Please read it as part of your response to the essay questions:

1. In your opinion (and experience) did Glass correctly identify the primary source of our collective “political socialization?”

2. What other sources or factors influence our political preferences?

3. Glass’s article was published in 1986. In your opinion, is political socialization today largely similar to political socialization in 1986? If so, how is it similar? If not, how is it different? What implications do your observations have for political candidates, organizations, and/or institutions?

4. What aspects of your reading in our course text help you to understand political socialization differently than you did prior to beginning our class?

Your essay must be between 4-6 pages in length, be double-spaced with standard (1-inch) margins and 12-point Times New Roman font.

Critique Assignment for June 2

By first letter of last name:

A to B = Diamond, Chapter 6

C to D = Krastev article

E to G = Plattner article

H to J = Diamond, Chapter 7

K to L = Pei article

M to O = Ang article

P to Z = No assignment

Latin America’s Shifting Politics (Levitsky)

Latin America is extremely democratic

It has never been this democratic for this long (30 years) in its history

13 of 19 Latin American states are democracies

Three others (Bolivia, Ecuador, and Honduras) are near-democracies

Only Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are fully authoritarian

Latin American democracies have improved in quality and are experiencing their longest uninterrupted period of democracy

Concerns for democracy in Latin America

While democracy is surviving, it is not thriving

Only 30% of Latin Americans say they feel satisfied with their country’s democracy, down from 44% in 2010

Only 25% trust their government, and fewer trust their national legislatures and political parties

Only 58% believe that democracy is the best form of government, down from 69% in 2010

Latin Americans have been voting against the political establishment

Latin Americans are unhappy with their democracies (1)

Extreme social inequality

Gap between the citizens and the political elite

Uneven access to the law generates perceptions of unfairness

Party weakness

Partisan identities eroded by severe crises and policy failures

Voting against the whole political establishment

Latin Americans are unhappy with their democracies (2)

State weakness

Failure to uphold the rule of law leads to corruption and public insecurity

Failure to tax effectively and redistribute wealth

Undermines government performance

Other challenges to democracy in Latin America (1)

Resurgence of the illiberal right

Iron-fisted politicians that trample on liberal rights and constitutional norms

Examples include Keiko Fujimori in Peru, Alvaro Uribe in Columbia, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil

Democratic centre-right parties have severely declined

Other challenges to democracy in Latin America (2)


Parties viewing rivals as enemies or existential threats

Willing to use “any means necessary” (violence, election fraud, and military coups) to defeat rivals

Brazil and Columbia have become extremely polarized

Other challenges to democracy in Latin America (3)

The changing international environment

The U.S. does little to advance the cause of democracy in Latin America anymore

The Trump administration is the least prodemocratic U.S. government in decades

Good signs for democracy in Latin America

Core democratic institutions are strikingly robust

Unlike the rest of the world, Latin America is not in a democratic recession

Latin American non-democracies are weaker and doing much worse than democracies are

Elections take place in every country, except Cuba

Bolsonaro and Brazil’s Illiberal Backlash (Hunter and Power)

Brazil’s Oct. 2018 election

Presidential victory for far-right populist, Jair Bolsonaro

Won runoff with 55% of the vote over Workers’ Party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad

The PT had governed Brazil from 2003-2016

Haddad was a late substitution for former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) who was imprisoned after corruption charges stemming from the Operation Car Wash scandal

Brazil President, Jair Bolsonaro

Decline of establishment parties in Brazil (1)

Two parties dominated politics since 1994, the PT, and the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB)

The PT and PSDB consistently won a combined 70% to 90% of the vote

The PT won four consecutive presidential elections

The PT got blamed for a serious downturn in the economy after 2013, for massive corruption, and for rising levels of crime

Decline of establishment parties in Brazil (2)

The PSDB formed a government with the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), but was unable to improve the economy or control corruption and crime

MDB President Michel Temer had very low approval ratings

One out of three members of Congress was under either indictment or investigation from criminal activity

Four crises in Brazil deflated government legitimacy (1)

Economic crisis

The worst recession in Brazilian history, losing almost 8% of its GDP

Political crisis

Rising polarization

Falling trust in establishment parties

Impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff in 2016

Emergence of a far-right fringe, expressing nostalgia for the order and clean government of the military dictatorship

Four crises in Brazil deflated government legitimacy (2)

Corruption crisis

The largest corruption investigation in the world

Revealed a large bribery and kickback scheme involving rigged bids by leading construction firms and contracts with Brazil’s largest oil company

Produced almost 1,000 arrests and 125 convictions

Four crises in Brazil deflated government legitimacy (3)

Deterioration of the pubic-security environment

Murder rate was up, as almost 64,000 were killed in 2017

17 of the 50 most violent cities in the world are in Brazil

Law and order candidates became popular with both poor and affluent voters

Jair Bolsonaro (1)

A well-known but irrelevant fringe-party backbencher since 1994

Neither an outsider, nor an insider

A gaffe-prone extremist, who has made multiple sexist, homophobic, and racist statements

Critical of human rights activists

Appealed to those with nostalgia for military rule

Jair Bolsonaro (2)

Much like Donald Trump, he can read the public mood and chose the right year to run for president

Was stabbed in the stomach in Sept. 2018, but survived and was elected president two months later

Support came from middle and upper classes, college graduates, and Pentecostal Christians

Changing party landscape

The PT and PSDB lost many seats and were severely weakened

Brazil has the world’s most fragmented party-system in history

Bolsonaro is perceived as an ideological extremist and will face much gridlock

Bolsonaro’s PSL party has only 10% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 5% in the Senate

Bolsonaro lacks an institutionalized political party to catch his falls and see him through hard times

Brazil’s last populist leader, Fernando Collor, had similar problems, and was elected in 1990 and impeached and resigned in 1992

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