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Structural power in comparative political economy:perspectives from policy formulation in Latin America

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  • Fairfield, Tasha

Abstract

Structural power is a critical variable that merits more extensive and more explicit attention in Latin American political economy and in comparative politics more broadly. Assessing structural power in conjunction with its counterpart, instrumental power, can provide strong leverage for explaining variation in policy outcomes that affect business interests. However, structural power must be carefully defined and operationalized in order to capture its core attributes and nuances. This task requires wedding the concept’s “structural” underpinnings with policymakers’ perceptions and anticipated reactions. Moreover, the relationship between structural power and instrumental power must be carefully theorized. While these concepts encompass distinct channels through which business exerts influence, the two types of power may be mutually reinforcing. I argue that business interests shape policy outcomes when either their structural power or their instrumental power is strong, yet business influence will be more extensive and more consistent when structural power and instrumental power are both strong. However, electoral incentives, and more importantly, popular mobilization, can counteract business power. I illustrate these theoretical points with a case study of Chile’s 2014 tax reform proposal, a major policy initiative with important distributive consequences that received international press attention.

Suggested Citation

  • Fairfield, Tasha, 2015. "Structural power in comparative political economy:perspectives from policy formulation in Latin America," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62123, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:62123
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jorratt De Luis, Michel & Fairfield, Tasha, 2015. "Top Income Shares, Business Profits, and Effective Tax Rates in Contemporary Chile," Working Papers 13744, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
    2. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-572, June.
    3. Luger,Stan, 2000. "Corporate Power, American Democracy, and the Automobile Industry," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521631730, December.
    4. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-572, June.
    5. George Avelino & David S. Brown & Wendy Hunter, 2005. "The Effects of Capital Mobility, Trade Openness, and Democracy on Social Spending in Latin America, 1980–1999," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(3), pages 625-641, July.
    6. Pepper D. Culpepper & Raphael Reinke, 2014. "Structural Power and Bank Bailouts in the United Kingdom and the United States," Politics & Society, , vol. 42(4), pages 427-454, December.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Duvanova Dinissa & Sokhey Sarah Wilson, 2016. "Choosing which firms to help in crisis: evidence from the emerging European economies," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 18(3), pages 225-262, October.
    3. Pritish Behuria, 2019. "The comparative political economy of plastic bag bans in East Africa: why implementation has varied in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 372019, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    4. Dafe, Florence, 2018. "Fuelled power: oil, financiers and central bank policy in Nigeria," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 89610, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    business power; taxation; Chile;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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