Scholarly discussion of the fate of the Third World has long been domi-nated by North American and European authors. Yet in recent years the writings of Third World social scientists have often been creative, and are worthy of more attention in the United States. This book makes the work of three outstanding Latin American sociologists readily available to the English-reading public: Gino Germani of Argentina (who has moved to Harvard University); Pablo Gonzalez Casanova of Mexico; and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil. Their major writings are summarized, and then interpreted in the context of material from extensive interviews with the authors. In these interviews, the authors explain the events--personal, professional, and political--that have had major influence on their thought.
Their views range from Germani's synthesis of orthodox European and American sociology, as adapted to his detailed empirical studies of the modernization of Argentina and other countries in this hemisphere, through Gonzalez Casanova's interpretation of the forces of exploitation, internal as well as external, that dominate the Mexican political system, to Cardoso's influential revisions of Marxist theory to deal with the basic situation of dependency that shapes the range of options open to the Latin American countries, especially Brazil. These "inside" views of the devel-opment process often sharply diverge from the dominant opinions among "outsiders." By understanding the differences, readers in the United States can gain direct insight into Latin American social reality, and can find ways of improving North American social science by bringing to the surface some unstated assumptions.
One theme common to all three authors is their concern with issues that arise from policy debates: they focus on questions of practical import, rather than abstruse theoretical models. Yet they use sophisticated tools of social science that go beyond ideological rhetoric, and thus discipline political argument with scholarly rigor.