I am very grateful for the fieldwork assistance and comments of Maribel Blasco, research officer for the project Gendered Housing: Identity and Independence in Urban Mexico (Economic and Social Research Council, UK, Research Grant R 000 23 6808), and for the insightful queries of the referees. Please address correspondence to Ann Varley, Department of Geography, UCL (University College London), Pearson Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT; e-mail: email@example.com.
Modest Expectations: Gender and Property Rights in Urban Mexico
Article first published online: 31 MAR 2010
© 2010 Law and Society Association
Law & Society Review
Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 67–100, March 2010
How to Cite
Varley, A. (2010), Modest Expectations: Gender and Property Rights in Urban Mexico. Law & Society Review, 44: 67–100. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5893.2010.00396.x
- Issue published online: 31 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 31 MAR 2010
This article examines gender and property in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the light of debates that oppose formal title to the social embeddedness of rights in customary law and assert that titling is bad for women. The article focuses on urban homes, private property, and civil law but finds that qualities regarded as characterizing customary property relations also shape popular understandings of property in urban Mexico. Discussion groups and social surveys in four low-income neighborhoods addressed two aspects of family law and property: whose name should appear on titles, and who should inherit the home. The results show that women, as wives, sisters, and daughters, have a secondary relationship to property. They also suggest that the opposition of individual title to socially embedded rights is a false dichotomy and that generalizing arguments about formalization and especially the negative gender implications of titling risks replicating the universalizing tendencies of Western property models.