Shaping Political Trust through Participatory Governance in Latin America
This paper critically assesses research that examines the link between participatory institutions and political trust in the context of developing countries, with a focus on Latin America. A significant limitation in the systematic accumulation of knowledge in this field is inattention to identifying a clear causal chain through which citizen participation shapes political, economic, and attitudinal outcomes such as political trust. This is particularly important in the Latin American case where constitutionally stated objectives of participatory governance include the improvement of citizen welfare as well as strengthening of political trust in public institutions. Future work should concentrate in providing clear and testable models of the complex relationship between participatory mechanisms, policy, governance, and trust, with particular attention to what mediates and moderates this relationship. Additionally, empirical work done of the Latin America case should move away from a predominantly case-study based and macro-level perspective in the study of participatory institutions to micro-level studies from the citizens point of view. A new frontier for the study of participatory governance in Latin America lies in understanding how citizens experiences with and expectations of participatory institutions as well as the policy outcomes delivered by these institutions shape political trust.