Institutions as Incentives for Civic Action: Bureaucratic Structures, Civil Society, and Disruptive Protests

Cornell, Agnes and Marcia Grimes (2015). “Institutions as Incentives for Civic Action: Bureaucratic Structures, Civil Society, and Disruptive Protests.” The Journal of Politics 77(3): 664-678.

This paper examines the link between political control of government bureaucracies and citizens’ likelihood to stage disruptive protests. A public administration heavily controlled by politicians, and staffed to a large extent with political appointees, allows politicians to intervene in policy implementation and favor some groups over others in terms of access to public services. Such a system may induce citizens or civic associations to resort to disruptive actions to express demands and demonstrate political relevance, and thereby secure access to public goods. The effects are hypothesized to be more pronounced where civil society is stronger. We test the arguments empirically on data from 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the findings are consistent with the hypotheses.

 

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