Rethinking Development in Latin America

Edited by Charles H. Wood, Bryan R. Roberts

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 January 2005

Length of book:

384 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028941

Understanding development in Latin America today requires both an awareness of the major political and economic changes that have produced a new agenda for social policy in the region and an appreciation of the need to devise better conceptual and methodological tools for analyzing the social impact of these changes. Using as a reference point the issues and theories that dominated social science research on Latin America in the period 1960–80, this volume contributes to “rethinking development” by examining the historical events that accounted for the erosion or demise of once-dominant paradigms and by assessing the new directions of research that have emerged in their place.

Following the editors’ overview of the new conceptual and social agendas in their Introduction, the book proceeds with a review of previous broad conceptual approaches by Alejandro Portes, who emphasizes by contrast the advantages of newer “middle-range” theories. Subsequent chapters focus on changes in different arenas and the concepts and methods used to interpret them: “Globalization, Neoliberalism, and Social Policy”; “Citizenship, Politics, and the State”; “Work, Families, and Reproduction”; and “Urban Settlements, Marginality, and Social Exclusion.”

Contributors, besides the editors, are Marina Ariza and Orlandina de Oliveira, Diane Davis, Vilmar Faria, Joe Foweraker, Elizabeth Jelin, Alejandro Portes, Joe Potter and Rudolfo Tuirán, Juan Pablo Pérez Sáinz, Osvaldo Sunkel, and Peter Ward.

“A dozen very accomplished social scientists here reassess the theories that have informed the study of Latin American societies over the past forty years or so. The authors also consider analytic revisions that may be needed to address new social issues or paradigmatic gaps. The text conveys a subtle picture of contemporary societal and political dilemmas in Latin America, stressing the interplay among social issues, public policies, and evolving analytic models.”

—Christopher Mitchell, New York University