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Scaling-Up and Zooming-Out: Understanding How and When Participatory Institutions Matter

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The three books reviewed here represent a new generation of rigorous scholarship on participatory institutions (PIs). They demonstrate that – under certain conditions – it is possible to build large-scale PIs that strengthen democratic governance and improve citizens' lives. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain. Due in part to the absence of either high-quality national-level comparative data or fine-grained subnational data, and in part to research design choices of existing studies, the literature remains limited in its capacity to make general claims about the causes and effects of large-scale PIs. Ultimately, the key question collectively addressed, but not fully answered, by the works reviewed is whether governments can build PIs that deliver on their promise to improve the quality of democracy and enhance public service provision on a large scale in diverse contexts beyond Brazil.

Keywords: CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT; DEMOCRATIC INNOVATIONS; LATIN AMERICA; PARTICIPATORY INSTITUTIONS; QUALITY OF DEMOCRACY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2021

This article was made available online on December 18, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Scaling-Up and Zooming-Out: Understanding How and When Participatory Institutions Matter".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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