The Market and the Masses in Latin America: Policy Reform and Consumption in Liberalizing Economies

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What do ordinary citizens in developing countries think about free markets? Conventional wisdom views globalization as an imposition on unwilling workers in developing nations, concluding that the recent rise of the Latin American left constitutes a popular backlash against the market. In this book, Baker marshals public opinion data from eighteen Latin American countries to show that most of the region's citizens are enthusiastic about globalization because it has lowered the prices of many consumer goods and services while improving their variety and quality. Among recent free-market reforms, only privatization has caused pervasive discontent because it has raised prices for services like electricity and telecommunications. Citizens' sharp awareness of these consumer consequences informs Baker's argument that a political economy of consumption has replaced a previously dominant politics of labor and class in Latin America.