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Title: State Building on the Ground: Police Reform and Participatory Security in Latin America
Authors: Gonzalez, Yanilda Maria
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah J
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Citizenship
Institutional reform
Participatory Democracy
State capacity
State-society relations
Subjects: Political Science
Latin American studies
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In this dissertation I investigate the persistence of institutional weakness and examine the conditions under which change becomes possible. Such questions are of particular importance in Latin America, where a democratic period marked by high rates of crime and violence in many countries has laid bare the precariousness of state institutions. What we've observed throughout Latin America and elsewhere, is that conditions facing police institutions, such as extensive corruption, violence, and incompetence in fighting crime, may exhibit a remarkable continuity over time, even when they are widely recognized as a problem. Why does institutional weakness persist for such extended periods of time, particularly on an issue that is so politically salient? Under what conditions do political leaders undertake institutional reform? Drawing on evidence from periods of reform and "non-reform" in Colombia, Buenos Aires Province, and São Paulo State, I demonstrate that the root of institutional continuity and change can be found in societal contestation over the distribution of protection and repression, which inhibits the formation of a coherent demand for reform. Such fragmentation facilitates what I call patterns of accommodation among political leaders and police institutions, wherein politicians grant police broad autonomy in exchange for the cooperation of the manager of the state's coercive authority in advancing their political objectives. Reform becomes possible following the onset of a mobilized scandal, a high-profile act of police deviance that reveals shared preferences across a range of societal sectors that is then utilized by a robust political opposition that can maintain the event on the agenda as a platform for attacking the incumbent. Facing a clear societal demand and an electoral threat, politicians become more likely to enact reform following such a mobilized scandal. Furthermore, given the role often played by societal fragmentation in impeding reform, I investigate the conditions under which politicians choose to build state capacity through the incorporation of societal actors. I argue that reform is likely to include "participatory security" in contexts of poor police-society relations or low police capacity and resources, with different values along these dimensions leading to important differences in institutional design.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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