Regime Change in the Semiperiphery: Democratization in Latin America and the Socialist Bloc

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During the 1980s, a transition to democratic politics occurred in two very different parts of the world: State socialist Eastern Europe and dependent capitalist Latin America. This paper asks, “why‘? Why did regime change occur in the 1980s and why in the semiperipheral zone of the world system? Why, for instance, was there no regime instability on a similar scale in the core or the periphery? This paper proposes an answer that links convulsive political restructuring to the downturn phase of long Kondratieff-like economic cycles of the world-economy. Specifically, the generalized downturn that the world-economy entered in the 1970s is seen as the beginning of a Kondratieff B-Phase of economic difficulty, the political response to which is mediated by a state's zonal position in the larger world system. More powerful core nations respond by acting outwardly, in an effort to control the external environment through mechanisms such as the formation of economic blocs, like moves toward Europe an economic cooperation in 1992, and North American free-trade negotiations. Semiperipheral nations, being more constrained and weaker, act inwardly, changing their regimes to better deal with economic hardships. Finally, peripheral nations, weakest and most constrained, take little or no political action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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