In This Review

Shaping The Political Arena: Critical Junctures, The Labor Movement And Regime Dynamics In Latin America
Shaping The Political Arena: Critical Junctures, The Labor Movement And Regime Dynamics In Latin America
By Ruth Berins Collier and David Collier
Princeton University Press, 1991, 877 pp.

This book is a disciplined, paired comparison of the eight Latin American countries with the longest history of urban commercial and industrial development-Brazil and Chile, Mexico and Venezuela, Uruguay and Colombia, Argentina and Peru. The authors show how and why state and party responses to the emergence of an organized working class have been crucial in shaping political coalitions, party systems, patterns of stability or conflict and the broad contours of regimes and their changes. The argument is complex yet clear, the analysis systematic yet nuanced. The focus is on autonomous political variables within particular socioeconomic contexts, the treatment of which is lengthy but rewarding. Disappointing, however, is the only brief nod toward speculation about the analysis' implications for understanding contemporary Latin America and its likely future. Overall, a path-breaking volume.