Who Participates? Local Participation and the Left Turn in Bolivia

Whereas studies of electoral participation abound, little attention has been paid to non-electoral and non-contentious participation. Latin American countries have recently promoted participatory institutions and become ideal contexts to probe participation questions. Since the mid 1990s, Bolivia has been at the forefront of institutional creation for participation. We analyze the determinants of local community participation through individual survey data spanning from 1998 to 2010. Our contribution is two-fold. First, we ask whether Bolivia’s new participatory regime reproduces the socioeconomic biases prevalent in developed societies. We find no evidence of a high social-class bias in Bolivia’s participatory regime. Second, we analyze whether Bolivia’s left turn has produced changes in the levels or predictors of participation, as expected in the “left turn” literature. Contrary to expectations, the levels of local community participation have not changed, albeit the participants are slightly younger, more indigenous, and rural than before the left turn.

Davies, Emmerich and Falleti, Tulia, Who Participates? Local Community Participation and the Left Turn in Bolivia (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2104703

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