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The Two Faces of Institutional Innovation

Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America Leonardo Avritzer, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil
This book evaluates democratic innovations to allow a full analysis of the different practices that have emerged recently in Latin America. These innovations, often viewed in a positive light by a large section of democratic theorists, engendered the idea that all innovations are democratic and all democratic innovations are able to foster citizenship – a view challenged by this work. The book also evaluates the expansion of innovation to the field of judicial institutions. It will benefit democratic theorists by presenting a realistic analysis of the positive and negative aspects of democratic innovation.

Extent: c 192 pp
Hardback Price: $110.00 Web: $99.00
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78643 664 1
Availability: In Stock
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  • Innovation and Technology
  • Innovation Policy
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • International Politics
  • Public Administration and Management
  • Regulation and Governance
Many democratic theorists have viewed the recent innovations adopted throughout Latin America in a positive light. This evaluation has engendered the idea that all innovations are democratic and all democratic innovations are able to foster citizenship. Presenting a realistic analysis of both the positive and negative aspects of innovation, this book argues that these innovations ought to be examined at the intersection between design and the political system.

The Two Faces of Institutional Innovation offers a new perspective on developments such as participatory budgeting, the National Electoral Institute (INE) and the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) in Mexico and comités de vigilancia in Bolivia, and evaluates the extent to which, in reality, citizens were involved in decision-making, distributive policies and citizen education. Further chapters also examine the expansion of innovation to the field of judicial institutions – one of the key areas in which innovation took place in Latin America, showing that the role of legal corporations in democracy cannot be compared with the role of engaged citizens.


Contemporary and astute, this book will captivate students and scholars researching in the areas of innovation policy and regulatory governance. Its analysis of the positive and negative aspects of democratic innovation will also benefit democratic theorists and policy-makers alike.
‘Avritzer’s groundbreaking book demonstrates how different trajectories of innovations affect both democratic politics and the rule of law. The book highlights how democratic innovations expand citizens’ voice and broaden the public sphere. In contrast, innovations initiated with the judicial branch not only limit democratic practices, but also make it more difficult to craft a functioning rule of law because there are few accountability checks over judicial actions. Avritzer’s book makes an excellent contribution to debates on democratic politics and the rule of law in new democracies.’
– Brian Wampler, Boise State University, US

‘Most students of democratization since 1974 (myself included) were wrong and Leonardo Avritzer has proven us so. We assumed (and complained) that in these seventy or so cases, almost all of the effort in regime change was devoted to simply imitating preceding “real-existing democracies.” His book documents and analyzes an extraordinary variety of efforts at institutional innovation in these neo-democracies, mostly in Latin America (and especially in his native Brazil). It is enlightening reading for anyone studying democratization and obligatory reading for anyone interested in improving the quality of “real and recent existing” democracy.’
– Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute, Italy
Contents: Introduction: the theory of institutional innovation: an overview 1. The two sides of institutional innovation 2. A second source of innovation: critical public policy 3. Participatory budgeting as a democratic innovation: origins, expansion, and limits 4. Councils and monitoring in Latin America as forms of participatory accountability 5. Innovation in the wrong direction: the Brazilian and Colombian constitutional tradition, Ministério Público and the Courts Conclusion: The two faces of Innovation Index