Austerity and Neighborhood Politics in Guadalajara, Mexico


  • Jon Shefner

    1. Is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. His research focuses on the politics of the urban poor in Latin America and the impact of political economy on urban protest. He is also coordinating a team ethnography project in New Orleans public housing to investigate the impact of welfare reform on public housing residents.
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The literature on the politics of the urban poor in Latin America is largely bifurcated into two opposing schools. One of these interprets the political behavior of the poor as clientelist, and the other finds the poor engaging in insurgent political participation. In this paper I argue that examining the political economy of place offers us a way to understand these political behaviors on a continuum, rather than recreating a false dichotomy. I examine the impact of political economy and urbanization on home ownership as a survival strategy of the poor in Guadalajara, Mexico, as well as addressing the impact of both these factors on political behavior. In so doing, I show why a neighborhood on the outskirts of Guadalajara grew increasingly supportive of opposition politics. I further suggest that examining political economy effects on urban politics offers a way to understand the politics of the urban poor in Latin America in a more nuanced fashion.