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Broadening understandings of governance: the case of Mexican local government

By Francisco Javier Porras Sánchez


This dissertation is an evaluation of some of the basic assumptions of the literature on governance and their utility for understanding a specific case - that of Mexico. It argues that Mexican municipalities, like their counterparts in Europe and the United States, have experienced a change towards a way of policy-making based on broader policy-networks, fragmentation in governmental and societal bodies, participation of an increasing number of self-organised actors, and the resulting blurring boundaries between the public and private spheres. Mexican urban municipalities are evolving from traditional patterns of governmental interventions to dynamisms of local governance. This shift, however, has taken place in an uneven way, shaped by factors such as the complexity of urban problems, the political alternation, the federal policies on transfers, the different policy areas and issues, the looseness of networks and the way in which they operate. As a result, Mexican local governance has been developed in policy sectors that have a high legitimising potential or that are in great need for citizens’ resources. This has generated a picture of ‘patches’, where stronger policy networks and citizens’ involvement in policy-making coexist with traditional governmental mechanisms.\ud \ud The dissertation is a contribution to the differentiated accounts of local governance recently developed, which use diverse contexts to argue that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ form of governance. It is a reconsideration of the importance of local contexts in shaping policy-making through networks, as opposed to the initial context-free governance understandings. The conclusion recognises the relevance of the main arguments of governance literature. The thesis makes use of empirical evidence gathered in three urban municipalities. It employs qualitative methodological criteria, discussed in the methodological appendix. The main research techniques used were elite interviewing and documental analysis

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