The Poverty of Revolution

The Poverty of Revolution: The State and the Urban Poor in Mexico

Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 382
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  • Book Info
    The Poverty of Revolution
    Book Description:

    The plight of the urban poor in Mexico has changed little since World War II, despite the country's impressive rate of economic growth. Susan Eckstein considers how market forces and state policies that were ostensibly designed to help the poor have served to maintain their poverty. She draws on intensive research in a center city slum, a squatter settlement, and a low-cost housing development.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5391-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
    (pp. x-xi)
    (pp. xii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvii)
    (pp. xviii-xx)
    (pp. xxi-2)
    (pp. 3-12)

    The state¹ in a semidependent² capitalist society like Mexico depends on capital to generate production and to provide resources for the administrative apparatus. State functionaries, in turn, protect interests of capital, both national and foreign, irrespective of their own class background. If they do not, capital may be reluctant to invest domestically; or it may withdraw its financial support of the government or use its influence to oust those formally in command of the regime.

    A capitalist state, however, concerns itself not merely with the accumulation process—in the immediate interests of capital—but also with legitimation. In a modern...

  9. CHAPTER ONE The State and Society: Inequality in Postrevolutionary Mexico
    (pp. 13-39)

    The Mexican government legitimates itself on the basis of a revolution, calls itself revolutionary, and justifies social change in the name of revolution. Although the revolution with which it associates itself began as a liberal “middle-class” effort to institute free elections, the movement eventually led to the introduction of an agrarian reform that freed Indians from bondage, unequivocally established capitalism as the dominant mode of production, made suffrage universal, and created a mass-based political party. Since the civil strife subsided the economy has diversified and expanded, and the polity has stabilized within an officially democratic rubric. While the specific institutional...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Rise and Demise of Autonomous Communities
    (pp. 40-77)

    An inner city, a self-made, and a planned low income urban settlement.¹ They look different and seem to have contrasting effects on inhabitants. Yet the impact of the dwelling environs over the years has proved to be limited, for social and economic conditions within the areas have been shaped by contemporary and historical economic and political forces linked to the country’s capitalist development: No architectural planning has been effective in countering the impact of these societal influences. Even initial political differences between the areas owing to their different origins have diminished, as the communities have become more integrated into urban...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Irony of Organization
    (pp. 78-107)

    The state appears to be responsive to and protective of the interests of resident poor. Residents have access to legitimate political and government organizations which espouse populist goals, but the groups provide them with no assurance that the government will act in their interests. They do acquire certain goods and services through the groups; but these benefits tend to reinforce the established urban stratification, since more privileged classes receive more substantial benefits. Above all, the extension of government benefits serves to subject residents to social and political controls, and expand the regime’s support base, regardless of the residents’ intention when...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Políticos and Priests: Oligarchy and Interorganizational Relations
    (pp. 108-124)

    Not only groups and institutions legitimated in terms of the revolution but also organizations formally restricted since the upheaval serve to subordinate the interests of local poor to those of capitalists and other privileged groups. The Church, and individuals and groups affiliated with it, violate the Constitution in ways which extend the political reach of the state apparatus. Conditions within the three areas studied suggest that the disappearance of overt Church-state conflict in the course of this century stemsnot, as is commonly believed, from each institution respecting the independence of the other. Rather, it derives, at least in part,...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE The Politics of Conformity
    (pp. 125-140)

    In capitalist societies with universal citizenship there is in theory a fundamental contradiction between the economy, premised on inequality, and the polity, premised on equality.¹ In such societies politicized electorates may impose demands which require governments to divert developmental resources to distributive programs.²

    Since suffrage is universal in postrevolutionary Mexico, residents in principle could use the franchise to elect into office a party or group of people who above all defend their interests. Paradoxically, though, the very same forces which restrict the local residents’ organizational effectiveness and contribute to Church-state oligarchy also predispose residents to support the PRI. Inhabitants are...

  14. CHAPTER SIX The Political Economy of the Local Communities
    (pp. 141-164)

    National and international capitalist forces, along with government policies, shape the local political economies: the array of productive and distributive enterprises, patterns of ownership, prospects of business success, and relations within and between local businesses.¹ International oligopolies have absorbed the most successful local businesses, and many of the other locally operating businesses which appear—by local standards—to be productive, profitable, and secure, are owned by nonresidents. People who do not reside in the areas entered them with an economic advantage over residents. Concerned above all with advancing their own economic interests, the nonresidents neither reinvest the income generated locally...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Occupational Choice and Occupational Fate
    (pp. 165-207)

    Since Mexicans, as we saw in Chapter One, tend to enjoy economic and other prerogatives in accordance with their occupational group affiliation, the “life chances” of residents of the three areas are closely linked to the jobs they secure. Yet their opportunities are limited, the nation’s revolution and rapid economic growth notwithstanding.¹ Although many local men initiate efforts to improve their economic standing, their occupational opportunities and the inter- and intragenerational occupational mobility they experience generally are limited by class forces that discriminate against them.² Their occupational “fate” is not primarily determined by their cultural predispositions or by sociophysical environmental...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT The Poverty of Revolution: Mexican Urban Poor in Cross-National Perspective
    (pp. 208-220)

    Conditions within the three areas suggest that poverty and responses to poverty are largely shaped by the structure of the society at large, and that similarities and differences between urban poor cross-nationally therefore should be understood within the context of national institutional arrangements. Despite conditions unique to the three areas, residents are constrained by similar economic forces as are other urban poor in Mexico and other capitalist societies, particularly other semidependent Latin American capitalist societies. Some broad cross-national comparisons are made below, necessarily precluding specific national variations.

    The postrevolutionary Mexican economy operates predominately according to capitalist principles, but it is...

  17. EPILOGUE Fiscal, Physical, and Political Crisis
    (pp. 221-278)

    Once a model Third World country, by the 1980s Mexico was in crisis. It no longer had one of the world’s highest growth rates, a low rate of inflation, a diversity of exports minimizing its dependence on world market prices of a single commodity, and a foreign debt that it was capable of repaying. The government had also significantly cut back its controls over foreign capital, which had staked out “space” for local capital.

    Although the economy had been in difficulty in the early 1970s, it went from boom to bust with the discovery of large oil reserves later in...

  18. APPENDIX A Methods and Ethics
    (pp. 279-304)
  19. APPENDIX B Questionnaire Administered to Sample of Residents
    (pp. 305-324)
    (pp. 325-348)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 349-358)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-359)