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Positional power, party politics and social security in Mexico: is urban bias politically negotiable?

Ana‐Maria Wahl (University of Nebraska‐Lincoln)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 March 1998


Investigates urban bias in state policy making in Mexico. Refers to literature claiming that rural poverty in developing nations is a major problem because capitalism reflects an urban bias. Examines social security coverage for the rural poor in Mexico and notes that there are great variations depending on area, suggesting that social security coverage is politically negotiable. Outlines briefly the historical development of Mexico’s welfare state and uses a power resource model to demonstrate how groups with competing interests go about securing benefits from the state. Cites literature on dependency theory, indicating that rural groups have failed to mobilize politically and have therefore not secured the same state resources (such as social security benefits and housing) as urban groups, yet argues that this does not always apply in Mexico, partially due to party politics and bureaucratic paternalism. Explains how data was collected to examine regional variations in social security coverage among the rural poor and how the data was analysed. Reveal that workers in important international export markets (such as cotton and sugar) have greater political leverage in obtaining better social security benefits. Notes also that areas supporting the political party in power obtain better benefits. Concludes, therefore, that rural workers are not powerless in the face of urban capitalism and that urban bias and dependency theories do not reflect the situation in Mexico – rather social security benefits are politically negotiable.



Wahl, A. (1998), "Positional power, party politics and social security in Mexico: is urban bias politically negotiable?", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 18 No. 2/3/4, pp. 103-156.




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