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What Justice? Whose Justice?Fighting for Fairness in Latin America$
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Susan Eva Eckstein and Timothy Wickham-Crowley

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520237445

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520237445.001.0001

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Social Inequality, Civil Society, and the Limits of Citizenship in Latin America

Social Inequality, Civil Society, and the Limits of Citizenship in Latin America

(p.35) CHAPTER TWO Social Inequality, Civil Society, and the Limits of Citizenship in Latin America
What Justice? Whose Justice?

Susan Eva Eckstein

Timothy P. Wickham-Crowley

University of California Press

Ostensibly since the time of Aristotle, the theme of social inequality has posed a central problem for the theory and practice of democracy. Although political democracy may ultimately be undermined by socioeconomic inequality, a certain level of inequality is inevitable given the reality of modern democratic politics. This perpetual existence is upheld in a market economy. Latin America displays a direct correlation between the level of inequality and the resistance to equity-enhancing measures. Extreme socioeconomic inequality raises the stakes of distribution politics, making substantial reforms least likely in precisely those countries where they are most needed for maintaining democratic stability. The emergence of the liberal welfare state, with its appendix of citizenship, lay the socio-political foundations of modern capitalism, of which, social inequality is a part and parcel. It is this factor that is generally overlooked while debating social justice in Latin America, despite the resurgence of free-market capitalism.

Keywords:   Aristotle, democratic politics, free-market capitalism, Latin America, equity, citizenship

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