The Challenge to Local Governance under Rapid Coastal Urbanization
HEGEMONY AND CRITICAL ADAPTATION Critical adaptation to climate change involves analysing coping mechanisms without losing sight of the development context and underlying governance regimes. In the Mexican Caribbean the hegemonic development vision is informed by the cultural discourse of modernization and political narratives of neoliberal democratic reform. Progress and security are equated with the capacity to generate economic growth, although very unequally and disproportionately contributing to climate risk. This vision is globally sustained by its ability to absorb the excess financial liquidity that was generated in the last decades, until the financial crisis broke in 2008, by the international capitalist system (Harvey, 2002). However, the supremacy of the coalition between government and business corporations, for which there is implied consent from low-income workers and immigrants, is its key sustaining structure at the local scale. This coalition can be understood in terms of ‘historic blocs’, in Gramsci’s (1971) sense. A vital factor for consent is the trickle-down effect of rapid economic growth in a context of rural–urban migration. As observed by a Catholic priest working with low-income families in Playa when asked about sources of consent: ‘All that counts is that people perceive some incremental improvement, no matter how small, but something.’ In addition, the PRI governance structure suggests that the dominant model relies on a population conditioned to play subservient social and political roles. In fact, alternative social or political networks are actively discouraged and systematically co-opted by the government (Kray, 2006). One may speculate that the intellectual and...
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