Patterns of mass publics and mass political cultures: Venezuela in comparative perspective

Date of Completion

January 2005


Sociology, Theory and Methods|Political Science, General




The approach developed in this research focuses on mass publics and the way in which we could build descriptive knowledge about these mass publics through an inductive analysis. I present a study of the simultaneous consideration of: satisfaction with democracy, evaluation of democracy, preference for democracy or authoritarian government in Venezuela in 1995, and a comparison between the patterns in Venezuela and those in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Peru in 1995. ^ I will demonstrate that there is evidence of a multiplicity of mass publics embedded in these issues in Venezuela and these other Latin American countries, and that this evidence can be traced in cross-national studies. Publics such as the democratic supporters, authoritarian supporters, skepticals and the absolutely insulated are found in each of the Latin American countries studied. Some publics are equivalent, representing similar cultural processes; other publics are specific to some countries. However, in all case these processes occur simultaneously. ^ The evidence presented and the theoretical and methodological discussion offered take us through the discussion of the concepts of mass support, mass political legitimacy and mass political culture. However, I placed this evidence and theoretical discussion within the context of democratization theory in Latin America. ^ I developed this research as an experimental and alternative way of studying and considering public phenomena. The fact is that the way of reading the data explored in this research is quite different from the traditional methods. ^ My approach privileges the search for diversity as a way to construct mass scenarios. My goal is to develop an analytical perspective that will allow me to place together qualitative analysis based on discursive models; study of elites, parties and interest groups; and empirical research based on modern public mass opinion information, as in political culture research. To that end, I propose a model that starts recognizing a multiplicity of publics at any level of analysis. ^