Deep Politics: Community Adaptations to Political Clientelism in 21st Century Mexico
The specific contribution of this study is to explore how a communitarian lifeworld prepares the ground for practices of political clientelism without requiring the “foundational favor” noted in other contexts. Based on the encounter between ethnographies from two different communities of the Mesoamerican tradition in Mexico, the article argues that this lifeworld is forged by the habitual ways in which most collective tasks are carried out, that is, by forming and participating in networks. First, we offer a concrete description of the operation of two problem-solving networks of political clientelism in these communities. These networks are considered legitimate since they appear to be part of the communitarian practices. Second, we observe that the state often fails to reach out to the citizens with many social benefi ts, and we maintain that the problemsolving networks bridge the gap between the citizens and the state. Third, we argue that the ethnographic approach has been of paramount importance in reaching these fi ndings, which are hardly attainable without this method. We consider that the workings of the clientelist networks represent a deep expression of people’s communitarian lifeworlds.