Gender, bureaucracy and clientelistic relationships

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2002-05

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Abstract

Studies of clientelism by political scientists have seen it as gender neutral. After 1980, political science analyzed clientelistic relations in bureaucratic organizations. In a parallel way gender studies uncovered the masculine character of modern bureaucracy and the clientelistic form of the men-women coworker interpersonal relationships in them. The dissertation shows that the patron-client relation in a bureaucracy in Guadalajara is not only or even usually between a male patron and a female client, but a common way dealing with power, due to a number of propitiating factors in Mexican life. Public and private life are not clearly separated and especially the father figure is very important in public life. Both professional men and women who held positions of public trust in the bureaucratic organization studied in Guadalajara were hired on the basis of personal and familiar recommendations. Once in the institution, they were inserted into already present groups which were an extension of previous connections. Coworker interaction is given among people who consider themselves -or are considered by others- as members of a group in which the feeling of belonging depends on their personal relationship with the boss. In each clientelistic group there prevails a conventional order that provides the implicit rules guiding the circulation of favors and the informal power relations founded on loyalty and trust. Male dominance takes the form of a protective but authoritarian father. In contrast, the relations between groups competing for resources, positions and prestige follow a legal order, which is instrumentalized when conflict between groups becomes open. Quantitative data show substantive changes in women’s professional education and employment but there persists clear vertical gender segregation in professional work. Additionally, clientelistic favors received by women usually surpass maternal rights and are strongly related to the female role as daughter, wife and mother.

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