An Ethnographic Approach
Edited by Davide Torsello
Chapter 7: Old regime habits die hard: clientelism, patronage and the challenges to overcoming corruption in post-authoritarian Mexico
Studies on the determinants of corruption show that a strong civil society is one of the most relevant elements conducive to control of corruption (Hadenius and Uggla 1996, Brunetti and Weder 2003, Grimes 2012, Mungiu-Pippidi 2014). The growing consensus that effective anti-corruption efforts involve the bottom-up participation of citizens (Johnston 2014) is further supported by studies suggesting that an effective administrative capacity of the state is substantially advanced only when “social groups and individuals that are affected by state policies cooperate ‘from below’”(Carbone and Memoli 2015: 8). Taken together, these notions stress the importance of the relationship between democratization and control of corruption (Vaz Mondo 2014), as has also been consistently verified through large sample quantitative analyses (Treisman 2007, Themudo 2013, Mungiu-Pippidi 2014). However, research is still needed on the precise manner in which civil society can realize its effect on improved control of corruption outcomes in the context of regimes that have experienced, or are still undergoing, democratic transitions. If authoritarian rule inhibits civil society from counterbalancing abuses of power, then overcoming corruption during the process of political liberalization must imply an evolution in the perceptions and attitudes of individuals regarding their role vis-a-vis the state and developing the agency to hold authorities to account. This can happen because during regime transitions established rules are often contested, opening up opportunities for actions that may have been previously unavailable (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986, O’Donnell 1999). Furthermore, as Sydney Tarrow (1994) has suggested, changes in the political opportunity structure generate incentives for collective action.
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