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Trajectory of a concept: “Corporatism” in the study of Latin American politics


Beginning in the 1970s, “corporatism” came to be a major focus of attention in research on Latin America. 1 Analysts employed the concept to refer both to a pattern of interest group politics that is monopolistic, hierarchically ordered, and structured by the state and to a broader cultural and ideological tradition of the region that they viewed as patrimonial and statist. The concept commanded great attention, as it seemed to provide a valuable analytical tool for scholars concerned with the authoritarian regimes emerging in Latin America during this period. In addition, the understanding of political relationships suggested by this concept appeared to offer a useful alternative, or at least an important supplement, to pluralist models widely used in the United States. Hence, corporatism has been subject to much theoretical debate, and the concept has been applied in many empirical studies.

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