These two monographs belong to a series on Latin America published by the Institute for Social Research of the University of Münster, Germany. In the first monograph Silva-Fuenzalida, a Latin American sociologist, distinguishes between expectations based on a technical, rational appraisal of what is possible on the one hand and expectations kindled by mere exposure, by promises of a “caudillo,” or the hoped-for kindness of a “master” on the other. He maintains that rationality and functionalism are not sufficiently widespread, especially in matters connected with organization and policies. As a result, the increase in income which the Latin America masses are coming to expect is unattainable—a situation which is leading to explosive tensions. This reviewer is not quite as pessimistic. Silva’s analysis is relevant, and his judgment is likely to be correct in a number of cases, but his conclusions seem too sweeping. In particular, he fails to distinguish between countries. After all, there is a vast difference between, say, Venezuela and Guatemala. Moreover, Silva’s conclusions are based on too little hard information. Indeed, some of his data on economic and social performance are technically deficient (e.g., declines in percentages are mistaken for absolute changes) and dated, failing to take the 1960s into account.
The second monograph, written by a German sociologist, was intended to examine the applicability of Rostow’s stages to Latin America. However, we find that a third of the paper is taken up with a summary and discussion of the stages couched in general terms. Another third is devoted to a sweeping survey of developments in Latin America since colonial times that does not help to answer the central question. Part of the remainder is taken up with a largely irrelevant discussion of recent developments in some special areas, such as education and demography, whose statistical treatment also leaves much to be desired. In the little space that remains, Beckmann attempts to examine conditions in Latin America, to establish the utility of Rostow’s stage approach, and to determine at what stage of development the region finds itself. He ends up with the same objections to Rostow’s approach as a number of other writers, in particular Simon Kuznets and A. K. Cairncross, including the observation that the characteristics of one stage often overlap into others. Beckmann might have made a useful contribution, had he concentrated intensively on a limited number of countries. Instead he has relied on a few data to make sweeping generalizations covering all of Latin America, continents where industrialization, technical sophistication, capital formation, and social structure vary widely from country to country (Argentina vs. Bolivia), and even within countries (southern vs. northeastern Brazil).