The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book The Great Gap

The Great Gap

Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution in Latin America Edited by Merike Blofield
  • Copyright: 2011
  • Dimensions: 6.125 x 9.25
  • Page Count: 416 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05009-6
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05010-2
“I find The Great Gap to be the best and most important contribution to the study of Latin America written for quite some time.”
“Inequality encompasses diverse aspects of social, political, and territorial relations that commonly elude even learned discussions and debates. The Great Gap sets a high standard for Latin Americanists as well as comparativists in terms of both the breadth and depth of its analyses of this fundamental issue.”
“Social scientists have long assumed that political democracy will reduce social and economic inequalities. Thus, they have been puzzled by the persistence of extreme inequalities under democratic regimes in Latin America. Merike Blofield and her co-authors shed new light on this question by exploring how inequalities shape group interests, political power, and democratic processes, often in ways that reproduce those very inequalities. This provocative and insightful text breaks new ground in the study of the political economy of inequality, in Latin America and beyond.”
“Blofield’s volume is itself a wake-up call that democracy is only as strong as the level of equality it can help to produce.”
“In The Great Gap: Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution in Latin America, University of Miami political scientist Merike Blofield assembles a distinguished group of social scientists to look at why democracies tolerate high inequality. Blofield concludes that a ‘window of opportunity’ may be opening for more redistributive policies as populist regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia offer a wake-up call to the region’s elite about the perils of not acting. This may help persuade the middle and upper classes to invest in a new social contract where more public expenditures target the ‘unincorporated’ poor. . . . Blofield’s volume is itself a wake-up call that democracy is only as strong as the level of equality it can help to produce.”
“Blofield’s outstanding volume is a major contribution to our understanding of the relationship between inequality and politics. In addition to showing how inequality is reproduced, it persuasively demonstrates how pervasive inequality is in Latin America, how elites, the media, and the public perceive inequality, and how inequality affects taxation and social policies. . . . [It] deserve[s] a wide audience, and not only among Latin Americanists.”
“Interdisciplinary attempts to understand the increasingly complex relationships between continuing inequality and politics in Latin America are somewhat thin on the ground. Merike Blofield's excellent edited volume, prepared under the aegis of the Observatory on Inequality in Latin America at the University of Miami, represents a welcome contribution in this regard.”

The relationship between socioeconomic inequality and democratic politics has been one of the central questions in the social sciences from Aristotle on. Recent waves of democratization, combined with deepened global inequalities, have made understanding this relationship ever more crucial. In The Great Gap, Merike Blofield seeks to contribute to this understanding by analyzing inequality and politics in the region with the highest socioeconomic inequalities in the world: Latin America. The chapters, written by prominent scholars in their fields, address the socioeconomic context and inequality of opportunities; elite culture, public opinion, and media framing; capital mobility, campaign financing, representation, and gender equality policies; and taxation and social policies.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are Pablo Alegre, Maurício Bugarin, Daniela Campello, Anna Crespo, Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Fernando Filgueira, Liesl Haas, Sallie Hughes, Juan Pablo Luna, James E. Mahon Jr., Juliana Martínez Franzoni, Adriana Cuoco Portugal, Paola Prado, Elisa P. Reis, Luis Reygadas, Sergio Naruhiko Sakurai, and Koen Voorend.

Merike Blofield is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami.


Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: In equality and Politics in Latin America

Merike Blofield

Part 1: The Socioeconomic Context

Chapter 1 | Fault Lines in Latin American Social Development and Welfare Regime Challenges

Fernando Filgueira

Chapter 2 | Inequality of Opportunity in Latin America: Economic Well- Being, Education, and Health

Anna Crespo and Francisco H. G. Ferreira

Part 2: Elite Culture, Framing, and Public Opinion

Chapter 3 | Elite Perceptions of Poverty and Inequality in Brazil

Elisa P. Reis

Chapter 4 | Media Diversity and Social Inequality in Latin America

Sallie Hughes and Paola Prado

Chapter 5 | Public Opinion on Income Inequalities in Latin America

Merike Blofield and Juan Pablo Luna

Part 3: Agenda Setting and the Politics of Inequality

Chapter 6 | The Politics of Redistribution in Less Developed Democracies: Evidence from Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela

Daniela Campello

Chapter 7 | Inequality and the Cost of Electoral Campaigns

Maurício Bugarin, Adriana Cuoco Portugal, and Sergio Naruhiko Sakurai

Chapter 8 | Shallow States, Deep Inequalities, and the Limits of Conservative Modernization: The Politics and Policies of Incorporation in Latin America

Fernando Filgueira, Luis Reygadas, Juan Pablo Luna, and Pablo Alegre

Chapter 9 | Gender Equality Policies in Latin America

Merike Blofield and Liesl Haas

Part 4: Taxation and Social Policies

Chapter 10 | Tax Reforms and Income Distribution in Latin America

James E. Mahon Jr.

Chapter 11 | Are Coalitions Equally Important for Redistribution in Latin America? The Intervening Role of Welfare Regimes

Juliana Martínez Franzoni and Koen Voorend

Conclusion: Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution

Merike Blofield



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