Public Probity and Corruption in Chile: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Public Probity and Corruption in Chile

1st Edition

By Patricio Silva


246 pages

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Hardback: 9781138331167
pub: 2019-05-30
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In most Latin American countries, key officials and political figures have been involved in big corruption scandals in the last decade, leading to a rigorous academic debate on the possible socio-economic, political and cultural factors responsible for corrupt practices across the region. This book takes a different approach by focusing on Chile, which shows the lowest levels of corruption in the region. Instead of analysing notoriously bad cases in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, this book explores the factors which have led to a relatively high degree of public probity among power holders in Chile.

Public Probity and Corruption in Chile presents a long-term historical analysis demonstrating that public probity in Chile has its roots in the colonial period, and that public and state responses have historically shown a low level of tolerance for public cases of corruption. In particular, the author highlights the role played by relative poverty and lack of resources, geographical remoteness, the impact of the Arauco War against the Mapuche people, the militarisation of both government and public administration, the extreme oligarchic nature of the Chilean aristocracy, the early consolidation of state institutions and the rule of law, high levels of political stability and the role played by patriotism.

Studying an example of better practice in detail in this way provides valuable insights into the factors and actors which can help to prevent or to revert the phenomenon of public corruption in the region more generally. As such, this book will be of interest to researchers of corruption and public probity both in Chile and further afield.


"It is commonplace to cite Chilean exceptionalism as part of any analysis of variance in the governance of Latin America states. Patricio Silva has produced an encyclopaedic analysis of how the Chilean state was able to maintain a fairly clean administration (with some exceptions). This book provides both a historical guide and a sociological analysis explaining the trends and the exceptions, and should be required reading for students of Chile and of the state in general." -- Miguel Angel Centeno, Musgrave Professor of Sociology, Princeton University, USA

"When one looks at Chile from a comparative perspective, one of the country’s main mysteries are its relatively low levels of corruption. Cases which in the rest of Latin America are considered to be small acts of naughtiness or cleverness, that can even produce admiration, in Chile they constitute real scandals which offend the idea Chileans have of themselves. Chile seems to have a culture of probity, a certain allergy towards corruption which constitutes an exception in Latin America. Where does that culture of probity come from? Patricio Silva provides an answer to that question by exploring its origins in colonial Chile and its long evolution up to the present." -- Carlos Peña, Professor and Rector of Universidad Diego Portales, Chile

Table of Contents



1. Public Probity in Colonial Chile: War, Poverty, Nobility and Creole Patriotism, 1541-1810

2. Public Probity in Republican Chile: Civil Virtue under the Oligarchic Order, 1810-1920

3. Public Probity and State Modernisation under the Mesocratic Order, 1920-1973

4. Public Probity under Stress, 1973-2018



About the Author

Patricio Silva is Full Professor of Modern Latin American history at the Department of Latin American Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

About the Series

Routledge Corruption and Anti-Corruption Studies

The series features innovative and original research on the subject of corruption from scholars around the world. As well as documenting and analyzing corruption, the series aims to discuss anti-corruption initiatives and endeavors, in an attempt to demonstrate ways forward for countries and institutions where the problem is widespread. The series particularly promotes comparative and interdisciplinary research targeted at a global readership.

In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods.

The series welcomes submissions from established and junior authors on cutting-edge and high-level research on key topics that feature in global news and public debate. To submit book proposals, please contact the Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Caribbean & Latin American
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Corruption & Misconduct
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries