"This fine study provides a comprehensive analysis of the way mass publics in Latin America view market reforms. Andy Baker shows that people are inclined to evaluate trade liberalization quite differently from privatization, and he argues persuasively that such judgments are based not on their assets or their position in the labor market but on consumer interests and 'top-down' appeals by competing political elites. This is a book that is very timely in terms of current issues facing Latin America. It will be of considerable interest to Latin American specialists, to people with more general interests in the politics of market reform, and to students of political economy."
Robert Kaufman, Rutgers University
"This book is a major contribution to the study of the politics of market reform in Latin America. Baker develops a consumption-based theory of mass attitudes towards market liberalization, and he employs survey data and rigorous analytical tools to explain why citizens support some types of market reforms - namely, free trade - but oppose others, particularly the privatization of public utilities and state-owned enterprises. Although patterns of support and opposition are shaped by pragmatic considerations of material interests, what matters is not the impact of reforms on labor markets and employment opportunities, but rather their impact on prices, quality, and the availability of goods and services. This consumption-based theory sheds new light on a series of important questions that have perplexed scholars who study the political economy of development, including the sources of public support for market liberalization, the erosion of class cleavages in the political arena, and the potential social bases of new popular movements that contest the neoliberal model. This book is a must-read for any scholar who seeks to understand these questions."
Kenneth Roberts, Cornell University
"This book makes an important statement about how scholars and policymakers should understand the influence of public opinion on economic policy in Latin America. Baker provides a convincing explanation for why Latin Americans like free trade but dislike privatization: in the contemporary era, citizens across Latin America should be thought of as consumers, rather than as part of a system of economic production. The innovative application of the 'consumerist' theory Baker offers has wide-ranging implications for understanding the politics of economic reform across Latin America."
David Samuels, University of Minnesota
"Andy Baker's sophisticated and well-researched book develops an innovative consumer-oriented argument to explain the surprising fact that a majority of Latin Americans does not categorically reject 'neoliberalism', but actually supports free trade. The theoretical discussion, analysis of region-wide surveys, and case study of Brazil are impressive."
Kurt Weyland, University of Texas at Austin
"Andy Baker's book is a notable example of how research on polling and public opinion can make sharp, original contributions to the study of both politics (action) and policies (applied knowledge). His inquiry into popular and elite opinions and discourses regarding the free-market policies of the so-called Washington Consensus - implemented throughout Latin America in the 1990s and part of the 2000s - uses a sophisticated methodology to test hypotheses in empirical settings, particularly Brazil."
Francisco E. González, Johns Hopkins University, Latin American Research Review
"Andy Baker has written an impressive study of political economy and a pioneering work of public opinion formation in Latin America. [He] marshals an abundance of survey evidence in support of the theoretical claim that Latin Americans cast ballots as consumers, not as producers."
Fabrice Lehoucq, Bulletin of Latin American Research