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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Dynamism of Small Spaces: Trends and Patterns of Political Participation and Engagement in the Municipality of Villamar, Michoacán

  • Author(s): Ruiz, Maria Guadalupe
  • Advisor(s): Hunefeldt, Christine
  • et al.

This research takes the municipality of Villamar, Michoacán, México as a case study in the patterns of political participation that characterized the June 2015 legislative elections. Villamar, a municipality rich in social, economic and political dynamics, is taken as a microcosm of broader historical and political processes that have taken place in Michoacán. In qualitative interviews with 20 residents of three rural ranchos in Villamar, this study seeks to understand the local factors and characteristics of political participation, and the extent to which patterns may reflect context-specific cumulative processes. Among these processes are the history of agrarismo in the region, local culture and sociopolitical infrastructure, economic changes, and the influence of parastate actors such as drug-trafficking organizations. The thesis provides a detailed description of Villamar’s political landscape as described by participants, and highlights the following patterns: PRI party loyalty, low internal political efficacy, healthy participation rates of women, the centrality of immediate needs in political decision making, and overwhelming perceptions of government inefficiency. While the patterns found in Villamar are outcomes of national level political processes, they are more easily traced to their local counterparts. Participation, then, is influenced more by citizens’ immediate needs and realities than national political concerns. This research discusses these findings in light of their implications for Mexico’s endeavor towards democratic consolidation.

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