Working paper // World Institute for Development Economics Research 2011,16
Many commentators have noted the existence of a historical correlation between cities and democratization. This image of the city as an inherently civic space is linked to the notion that the spatial concentration intrinsic to urban contexts promotes a democracy of proximity. Seen from this perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that the most urbanized region of the global south, Latin America, is also a heartland of vibrant and much applauded democratic innovation. Of particular note are the myriad local level 'radical democracy' initiatives that have proliferated throughout the region's cities during the past two decades. At the same time, however, it is a significant paradox that Latin American urban centres are also amongst the most segregated in the world, something that is widely considered to have a significantly fragmenting effect on public space, and is therefore undermining of democracy.