In contrast to the common image of Cuba as a totalitarian dictatorship, Linda Fuller argues that, as Cuban socialism has matured, important democratic advances also have been made. Tracing the path of reform in the area of workplace democracy in Cuba over the last thirty years, she compares the expansion of workers' control after 1970 with the situation in the 1960s. The question that guides this comparison is complex as well as controversial: What would the democratization of work actually entail? The author addresses it through in-depth interviews with Cuban workers, primary documents, and a close look at a variety of institutions, including unions, the Party, management and planning systems, and grievance committees.
Fuller also examines how and why changes toward greater democratization of work occurred in Cuba. She approaches this question through a historical analysis of the politics of institutionalizing socialism in Cuba. The key to this history is not, as has often been argued, Castro's personality, the Soviet Union, or even the global political economy. Rather it can be found in the relationship between the country's political leaders and the mass of Cuban citizens in the 1950s and 1960s, a relationship unlike those that developed in most other socialist countries.
"(An) excellent analysis of Cuba which is long overdue."
—American Journal of Sociology
"Not only an important addition to the existing literature on the Cuban revolution and the nature of socialism, but also a timely contribution to the current debates about the need and prospects for reform within the ever diminishing socialist bloc."
—Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College