Democratic Breakdown Of Chile : Structural Or Voluntarist? Essay

2409 Words Nov 29th, 2016 10 Pages
Democratic Breakdown in Chile: Structural or Voluntarist?
Why are some democracies successful in ensuring their survival, while others fail and breakdown? This is a question that of great interest to many scholars, and one that is therefore the subject of a great body of research. One example of a democracy that, despite having a long history of democratic transition, eventually failed and led to an authoritarian regime is Chile. There were many reasons to believe in 1970 that Chile would remain democratic, but by 1973 the chances of a smooth democratic transitions had vanished. What had been a largely peaceful, if polarized, country was overturned by a military coup, thrown into chaos, but why? There are two major theoretical frameworks to try and come to an answer for this question. First, structural theories attempt to take long-term, stable factors, which can be applied to generally across a wide array of cases. Do to the long term nature of these variables, the actions of individuals are seen as less important than the way that they fit into the larger pattern of behaviour. Opposed to structural theories are voluntarist explanations. These focus on short-term, flexible and contingent variables, such as individual actors or their preferences. As a result of this, voluntarist factors are highly context dependent, and not generalizable across other cases.
While structuralism and voluntarism are often treated as to totally separate theories, it is impossible to ignore the…

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