In many young democracies, local politics remain a bastion of nondemocratic practices, from corruption to clientelism to abuse of power. In a context where these practices are widespread, will local politicians ever voluntarily abandon them? Focusing on the practice of clientelism in social policy in Argentina, this book argues that only the combination of a growing middle class and intense political competition leads local politicians to opt out of clientelism. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, an original public opinion survey, and cross-municipal data in Argentina, this book illustrates how clientelism works and documents the electoral gains and costs of the practice. In doing so, it points to a possible subnational path towards greater accountability within democracy.
Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro is the Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brown University, Rhode Island. Her research has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, the Journal of Latin American Politics and Society, the Journal of Politics, and Latin American Research Review. She was the recipient of the Sage Prize for Best Paper in Comparative Politics presented at the 2011 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Professor Weitz-Shapiro has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences at the Juan March Institute in Madrid and a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina. She has conducted fieldwork in Argentina and Brazil, and has received funding from the National Science Foundation, among other sources. She holds a PhD from Columbia University, New York and an AB from Princeton University, New Jersey.
1. Accountability, democracy, and the study of clientelism; 2. Making clientelism work: politician behavior and voter beliefs; 3. Curbing clientelism: why some politicians opt out; 4. Clientelism, social policy, and measurement; 5. Clientelism across municipalities in Argentina's National Food Security Program; 6. Survey and experimental evidence for the costs of clientelism; 7. Moving towards accountability?: comparative perspectives and policy implications.