Henry Dietz is the leading American scholar on Lima squatter settlement politics . . . [This book] is the synthesis of his research since 1970. It includes his interpretations of the four surveys he has carried out in six Lima squatter settlements and places them in the larger context of what has been happening in Peru politically, economically, and socially since the military takeover in 1968 and the return to democracy in 1980. In my judgment, anything he writes on the subject is worth publishing.
Urban Poverty, Political Participation, and the State offers an unparalleled longitudinal view of how the urban poor saw themselves and their neighborhoods and how they behaved and organized to provide their neighborhoods with basic goods and services. Grounding research on theoretical notions from Albert Hirschman and an analytical framework from Verba and Nie, Dietz produces findings that hold great interest for comparativists and students of political behavior in general.
A foremost authority on contemporary Peruvian politics, Dietz examines how the poor in metropolitan Lima responded to volatile political changes and deepening economic crises between 1970 and 1990. He draws his detailed longitudinal study from four extensive surveys conducted in six urban settlements during those years. . . . Dietz indicates that neither the military dictatorship, which ruled Peru from 1968 until 1980, nor subsequent civilian governments effectively met expectations in these communities to provide material goods and essential services. He demonstrates that the failure of leaders and groupings across the political spectrum to address such needs led not only to increased self-help strategies to solve infrastructure problems but also to diminished direct political involvement among settlement neighbors.
The analysis is rich and multilayered . . . The rare, if not unique, longitudinal perspective on the urban poor makes this bok especially useful to political scientists interested in political participation and democracy. It is required reading for Peruvianists and specialists in urban politics in developing societies.
Through sustained and careful empirical analysis, Dietz has made an important contribution to political science; by focusing on electoral and nonelectoral participation, he provides a uniquely political optic through which to view the transformation of Latin American urban politics over the last three decades. It is a work to be studied, debated, replicated, and extended. It will certainly contribute to the continuing interest in understanding the problem of the urban poor in Latin America.
Dietz succeeds in producing a rich analysis of both informal and formal participation.
Henry Dietz is a professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas, Austin, and has been the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and associate director of the Institute of Latin American Studies. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, the Heinz Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society. He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards at the University of Texas and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru from 1964 to 1966.