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The “exceptionalist” collective imaginary, hegemonic battles, and Costa Rica’s democratic institutional development from the 1820s to the 1960s

Hedayat, Maria (2014) The “exceptionalist” collective imaginary, hegemonic battles, and Costa Rica’s democratic institutional development from the 1820s to the 1960s. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The aim of my thesis is to explore the role of the “exceptionalist” collective imaginary in promoting Costa Rica’s democratization process by applying a novel analytical framework that combines insights from post structural discourse theory, discursive institutionalism and ideational theories. It addresses the following puzzle: How was it possible for a society that historically prided itself on being “exceptionally” egalitarian, homogenous, peaceful, and democratic to become transformed into revolutionary agents by an unknown political figure (Jose Figueres) in a fight against the Caldero-comunista administrations responsible for creating the very institutions consensually attributed as serving as a base for Costa Rica’s democratic stability? To understand how civil war was averted during previous periods of deep socio-economic crisis and after fraudulent elections, it contrasts the discursive context during the 1940s with that of the liberal oligarchic hegemonic period. From its independence until the 1930s, political leaders had been able to disarticulate political alliances between potentially antagonistic groups by differentially incorporating the demands made by labour movements, peasant associations, and anti-imperialist movements through institutional and legislative means, thus preventing populist ruptures. The dislocatory effect of the Great Depression encouraged the proliferation of new discourses battling for hegemony. The hegemonic battles fought amongst the liberal oligarchs, the communists, the Christian Democrats and the social democrats within an ideational context polarized by World War II and the Cold War created the discursive conditions of possibility for the 1948 Civil War. After failing to garner support for their political project aimed at founding a social democratic Second Republic, Figueres took advantage of the political crisis created by the annulment of the 1948 presidential elections to launch an armed insurrection. However, the ideational path dependency created by the “exceptionalist” collective imaginary encouraged reformist as opposed to foundational institutional development during the immediate post civil war period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Maria Emanuela Hedayat
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Panizza, Francisco

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