Collective action in modern history has come to be defined by people fighting for their rights. This study identifies the main connections made between collective action and individual rights, in theory and history, and sets out to test them in the comparative context of modernizing authoritarian regimes in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Spain. The study employs new evidence and innovative methods to illuminate the political relationship between social mobilization and the language of rights, and shows that the fight for rights is fundamental to the achievement of democracy. In large measure it is this fight that will continue to decide the chances of democratic advance in the new millennium. This affirmation offers a direct challenge to the claims of Robert Putnam in Making Democracy Work, where democracy is seen to be the result of good behaviour in the form of the civic community. To the dismay of those peoples still aspiring to make democracy, Putnams civicness may take centuries to accumulate. Foweraker and Landman, in contrast, defend the political potency of the promise of rights, and argue that the bad behaviour of the fight for rights may achieve democracy in the space of one or two generations. The study demonstrates strong grounds for optimism, and constitutes a robust defence of democracy as the result of the collective struggle for individual rights. But the fight for rights is always conflictual and often dangerous, and the outcome is never certain. Successes are partial and reversible, and democratic advance tends to occur piecemeal, and against the odds. Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines. Volumes will concentrate on the comparative study of the democratization process that accompanied the decline and termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the series will primarily be Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant experiences in Africa and Asia. The series Editor is Laurence Whitehead.