Dados n. 8 Rio de Janeiro 1971

A Participação Política nas Condições Contemporâneas

Jaguaribe, Helio


The problem of political participation, as most problems of Political Science, has been deeply affected by the new behavioral approach of the discipline. The classics - from the Greeks to J. S. Mill - were primarily concerned, about political participation, with discussing such questions as (1) what sort of participation is good por the polis, (2) what confers legiti111acy to the rulers and (3) how the liberty of the individual and the volonté générale can be mutually compatible. Today the political scientist is preferently concerned with such questions as (1) what is political participation and which are the main involved variables, (2) how nominal participation relates to its actual forms and (3) what kind and how much political participation a given political system is able to process? Political participation, broadly understood, includes the processes and ways by which members of a society are involved in its political system. The main variables of such processes are indicated in Tables 1 and 2 and discussed in the above article. Nominal and actual political participation, in almost all societies, present an observable difference. This is due to two distinct kinds of causes. One concerns the difference, also existing in almost all societies, between the regime of power, which regulates how power is actually used, and the political regime, which states how power is officially and legally supposed to be used. Distinctly, the other kind of reason for differences between nominal and actual political participation concerns political indifference and the non utilization of actually available chances of political participation. These aspects of the matter are crucial for the modern theory of democracy. The understanding of political participation has been improved with the introduction of system analysis in political thinking. The concept of political stress expresses the situation of desequilibrium resulting from the fact that a political system has been exposed to more demands of participation that its structure, political culture and resources would allow it to process. There is, however, another aspect, in the restrictions to political participation, usually not seen by static views. It concerns the limits imposed to political participation by the regime of participation of a society and its correlate regime of power, independently of its structural and resource possibilities. Whereas, statically, stress affects the balance of a system, dynamically, rigidity of its regime of part1cipation may bring about its stagnation and decay. The concepts of political stress and political rigidity are particularly important for understanding the problems of political participation in Latin America, in the last decades. Populism, in the 1950s, expressed an increasing participation of the masses, with the corresponding flexibilization of the system. In the 60s, however, the excessive increase of populist demands caused in most Latin American countries a political stress. In exchange, in the present, they have been affected by a new rigidity, which brings about political stagnation and, eventually, decay.

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A Participação Política nas Condições Contemporâneas