Revolution or Contribution? Rational Choice Approaches in the Study of Latin American Politics Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Abstract This article assesses the contributions of studies in the rational choice (RC) tradition to scholarly understanding of Latin American politics. It groups some representative works according to their use of RC assumptions, and also reviews some of the major works in the institutionalist tradition. It argues that works in the RC tradition have neither forced a major rethinking of established theories nor filled major lacunae, although they have illuminated some phenomena that were only partly understood. The RC approach works best for narrow questions in which power relations and structural constraints are stable, whereas its essential assumptions become untenable in questions that involve shifting power relations among social groups and the state over time.

publication date

  • 2002