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On-line version ISSN 1851-9601


WAISMAN, Carlos. Autonomía, autorregulación y democracia: Sociedad civil y Estado bifurcado en América Latina. Postdata [online]. 2006, n.11, pp.57-74. ISSN 1851-9601.

This article takes as point of departure the conceptualization of civil society in social theory, focusing on Alexis de Tocqueville's classical analysis and on Ernest Gellner's contemporary approach. In this perspective, civil society refers to the web of associations that are representative of interests and values existing in a society, as long as its constituent units are not controlled by the state. The author proposes an operationalization of the diffuse concept "strong civil society" as one characterized by three properties of the associational web. In strong civil societies, this associational web is dense, highly autonomous from the state, and it has a high level of self-regulation. In the second part, the article discusses the application of this concept to contemporary Latin America. Economic liberalization has intensified social dualization in the region, so that civil society is strong in some regions and sectors of society, and weak in others. The author's central argument is that this increasingly segmented society has an elective affinity with a two-faced state, one of whose faces is liberal democratic, and the other non-liberal, either clientelistic, state corporatist or authoritarian. Therefore, a partial form of democracy could become the modal type of political regime in Latin America.

Keywords : Civil society; Latin American politics; Dualization; Partial democracy; Bi-facial state.

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