Bonus chapter – The Micropolitical Foundations of Government in Seven Bolivian Municipalities

Chapter 6 generalized from the experiences of Viacha and Charagua to build a theoretical model in which economic interests, political actors, and civic organizations interact over time to produce public decision-making that is responsive and accountable to voters, or not.  The theory is based not only on the experiences of Viacha and Charagua, but seven other municipalities as well.  This chapter uses the theoretical tools developed in the book to analyze the causes of the quality of government in each of those municipalities.  It tests the theory with copious amounts of detailed qualitative information that broadly mirrors the quantitative tests of chapter 7, and is comparable in rigor.  The evidence shows that the model of local governance can explain the emergence of responsive and accountable institutions of government with greater accuracy than competing explanations.

The municipalities in question were studied at the same time and in the same way as Viacha and Charagua, through a systematic program of extensive semi-structured and unstructured interviews of local government and community leaders, key informants, and citizens at the grass-roots level.  Detailed financial, administrative and geographic information was collected in each district.  As in Viacha and Charagua, the field work was largely focused on recording the opinions of people at the neighborhood and village level on the quality of public services and local government they received, and then determining how these outcomes came about.  The municipalities were chosen to include Bolivia’s main regions, ethnicities and cultures, and to mirror the country in terms of size, population, degree of urbanization, and economic base.  The group thus “represents” Bolivia in the weak sense of representing each of its essential characteristics in one or more of its number, and not in the strong sense of a representative sample.  The absence of opportunities for statistical inference is hopefully more than compensated by the depth of analysis that this approach makes possible.

The complete bonus chapter can be downloaded in PDF format.

The Micropolitical Foundations of Government in Seven Bolivian Municipalities