Community participation as a strategy in health aims to increase the role of citizens in health decision-making which are contextualised within the institutions of democracy. Electoral representation as the dominant model of democracy globally is based on the elite theory of democracy that sees political decision-making a prerogative of political elites. Such political elitism is counter to the idea of democratic participation. Neoliberalism together with elitism in political sphere have worsened social inequities by undermining working class interests. Latin America has seen adverse consequences of these social inequities. In response, social movements representing collective struggles of organised citizens arose in the region. This paper explores the theoretical underpinnings of democratic participation in contemporary Latin American context at the nexus of emerging social movement activism and policy responses. The paper will use empirical examples to highlight how such democratic practices at the societal level evolved while demanding political inclusion. These societal democratic practices in Latin America are redefining democracy, which continues to be seen in the political sphere only. Health reforms promoting participatory democracy in several Latin American countries have demonstrated that establishing institutions and mechanisms of democratic participation facilitate collective participation by the organised citizenry in state affairs.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- Health inequalities
- Latin America
- health sector reform
- social inclusion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health