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Volume 61 / Social Sciences

POLITICAL ECONOMY: MEXICO


JUDITH TEICHMAN, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto


AS MANY OF THE TITLES in this section suggest, recent academic and nonscholarly work on Mexican political economy has centered on the social and political dimensions of globalization and neoliberal (market) reform. The absence of sustained economic growth and the persistence or deepening of inequality and poverty are the primary concerns of most of this work. A growing proportion of the recent literature published in Mexico is pessimistic and harshly critical of the country's neoliberal model, and this is especially true of the nonacademic work (see for example, items #bi2003003279# and #bi2003003271#). A superbly balanced academic overview of the major issues stemming from Mexico's experience with neoliberalism over the past 20 years is the volume edited by Middlebrook and Zepeda (item #bi2003001748#).

The nature of economic decision making and its impact on both the economy and on future public policy options also has continued to be of concern for those writing on Mexican political economy. Financial deregulation, the bank rescue operation, and privatization have been the most popular topics in this regard in recent years. But more than any other debate, the discussion over if, how much, and when poverty and inequality has increased since the mid 1980s, when the country's neoliberal experiment was launched, has continued to occupy center stage. An excellent summary of this conflicting academic literature is found in Damián (item #bi2003003285#). The social impact of globalization and the role, nature, and impact of social policy, and its place within larger economic policy and political considerations, is a growing concern among economists, sociologists, and political scientists. This literature is widely dispersed in collected volumes and scholarly journals and beyond the scope of this review. Good discussions, however, are found in items #bi2003003272# and #bi2003001748#.

One of the most interesting bodies of work deals with the local and regional economic consequences and political responses to the impact of market reform and globalization. Recent work on the maquiladora (export processing zone) sector considers its regional impact and its effectiveness as part of a broader growth and employment strategy. The political dimensions of this process—weak trade unions, the role of government policy—are brought out clearly in the volume coordinated by De la O. and Quintero (item #bi2003005664#). One recent study of the impact of state withdrawal from the coffee sector is an excellent illustration of the variety of distinct policy framework scenarios (participatory versus oligarchical) that can arise as a consequence of market liberalization (item #bi2003003294#). Even within a single state, in the case of Chiapas, neoliberal reforms have triggered a variety of adaptations on the part of indigenous groups (item #bi2003003281#). Greater citizen participation in local development projects and programs is a recurrent theme in the literature and this concern has given rise to calls for meaningful decentralization. A solidly researched and fairly optimistic treatment of the ability of local initiatives to obtain positive results from globalization is García Bátiz et al. (item #bi2003003267#).


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