How do poor people fight against urban marginality and spatial segregation? Political Practices and Social Intermediation in Contemporary Mexico City Edison Hurtado Arroba PhD. Student of Sociology, Centro de Estudios Sociológicos, El Colegio de México 1. Research Problem Latin American cities (among others all over the world) are the scenario of accelerated reproduction of economically marginalized and socially excluded “citizens”. Precarious living conditions in these cities are not new, nor those studies of urban poverty, poor neighborhoods, inner cities, slums, settlements, favelas, villas, colonias populares, etc. (cfr. Auyero 2001, Cordera, Ramírez, Ziccardi 2008). It is not new that some of these conditions (the structural ones) are re-created over the years, and that poor people all around fight against social destitution (social situations are not immutable, nor in nature, neither in their expressions). In Mike Davis’ words (2006), we are facing a planet of slums in the near future, as a result of a global capitalist accumulation process that creates a huge mass of unemployed. Urban marginality and segregation is the correlative outcome of a global liberalization path in which poor people are on their own, without effective public support and with fragile (or inexistent) articulation to the labor market. In these contexts, what do poor people do to face urban segregation and poverty? Is there any bridge between “urban social movements” and “patronage”? How do national and sub national governments imagine (and act with reference to) political inclusion of the urban poor? What is the set of political practices in which poor people live in contemporary Latin American cities? How “participation initiatives” deal with current political practices? In Mexico City, population living in conditions of high and very-high urban marginality reaches 28% according to official national statistics (CONAPO 2005). But, perhaps it is more accurate to use the recent Social Development Index (Evalua DF 2011), which tells us that almost 60% live under low or very-low levels of “social development” 1 . Beyond that, no matter which index we use, both show us a well structured map of urban segregation in the city: a misery belt where poor people deal with unemployment and deprivation in daily basis. In Mexico City, deep economic and social inequalities are clearly observable in the territory. Capitalism, urban development and class inequality have socio-spatial manifestations, especially in this large metropolitan city (as in others). This mixed picture of the city, which receives differential impacts of the dynamics of neoliberal globalization, requires thinking in “several cities” that overlap each other. And when we think about how these multiple and varied social configurations coexist in the same city, we must consider the very local and particular history of neighborhoods and urban social struggles as geographically located. Urban poor politics is, in this perspective, a social product of an irresolute urban social issue, that take place differentially within specific spatial settings (Tarrés 1994). 1 The Index of Urban Marginality (CONAPO 2005) uses a negative or privation-centered approach. The Index of Social Development (Evalua DF 2011) states an optimum positive social level to be reached. It is possible that a certain spatial unit (e.g. a neighborhood) scores low marginalization, but also low social development, not being a paradox. Under this analytical scope, this research project focus on the political practices seen from below as a way to explore how the local political realm deals with poor and marginalized citizens in the city, and vice versa. 2. Research Questions The analytical aim of the research is to explain how specific urbanization and capitalist processes constrain the political practices and the citizenship of the urban poor. My comprehensive questions are: How do poor people claim the “right to the city”? Which are the explanatory factors that constrain political performance of urban poor people? Links between social exclusion, marginalization, citizenship, patronage and urban movement have been used repeatedly to study the forms in which urban poor express their search/struggle for social, economic and political inclusion (from H. Lefebvre to R. Sennet, from M. Castells to D. Harvey just to mention a couple of classics). Following these perspectives, the research attempt to analyze how urban popular collective action emerges in marginal and segregated places. In that way, the project links two main concepts: urban regime and citizenship regime 2 . In fact, urban sociology acknowledges that urban segregation constrains the capability of poor citizens to exercise their rights, but also their expressions towards social inclusion and political participation (Harvey 2007). Here, we want to know how it is produced in contemporary Mexico City. How do poor people fight against urban segregation in this Latin American city? What factors are constraining the agency of urban poor living in marginalized neighborhoods? If so, how? As a parallel course of action, during the last decade, recurrent initiatives to promote participation have been considered as required institutional approaches to fight against poverty, and to face traditional patronage and built democratic citizenship from below. In 1997, for the first time, México City elected the Mayor, and in 1999 was published the first Law of Citizen Participation (Ley de participación ciudadana), which was reformed in 2010. What kind of participation has been promoted in Mexico City in these years? Does it really replace “traditional values” with “progressive” democratic culture and practices? How those new participatory designs deal with previous-current political practices in poor neighborhoods? To what extend participatory designs of public policy can thwart social destitution? Is really social participation a new and improved mechanism to forge democratic citizenship? In a wider perspective, my thesis explores the relationship between society and politics, in a version in which urban social issues (marginalization and exclusion) would shape local political practices. What I put in the core of this discussion is the relationship between urban social issues and politics, understood as an expression of social citizenship and of current social and political ties (or sociopolitical intermediations). 2 Here, I follow the work of David Harvey (2007), Guttman (2009), John Mollenkopf (1996), Javier Auyero (2001), Denis Merklen (2005), Wayne Cornelius (1980), Lewis (1959), Lomnitz (1975), and many others. Let me just to mention the name of these well known urban sociologists. 3. Towards an Analytical Model Urbanization processes in Latin America, as is well known, were the resulting product of a particular capitalist accumulation model in the periphery. If recent development (urbanization) of Latin American cities shows the passage from the Import Substitution Model (ISI) to the Structural Adjustment Model to face and to engage into globalization (Portes, Roberts, Grimson 2008), we need to conceptualize how this process is producing new forms of exclusion in the cities and also, correspondingly, new conditions for the exercise (or not) of social citizenship in the cities. Urban poor people politics (Auyero 2001) or the political practices of the poor citizens (Merklen 2005) are conditioned by an irresolute urban social issue in Latin America (Alvarez, San Juan and Sanchez 2006). So far, I suggest that these issues are still irresolute in the lives of urban residents in Mexico, and shape the way politics take place in poor neighborhoods (Tejera 2003, Gomez-Tagle 2000). Recent research on Mexico City (Paladino, 2010, Tosoni 2007, Ziccardi 2008), or long-term studies (Ramírez 1986 and 2002, Álvarez 2004), show that urban social issues structure a poll of social incentives where sociopolitical actors emerge with specific characteristics and ways to do politics. A specific frame is built from below. Social relations in the urban peripheries are embedded within a large institutional milieu, and the entire public sphere in the city acquires particular density. Socio-political dynamics in Mexico City has been studied under the scope of “urban social movement”, mostly to refer to mobilization processes after earthquake of 1985. What has changed? What are the current social circumstances that enable new forms of urban collective action? What actors and agendas are shaping urban politics nowadays? For example, the step that many of grassroots organizations are taking toward electoral politics (Espinosa 2000, Haber 2009) is certainly a new process that is facilitated by the opening in the District election (as late as in 1997) and for attempted emerging alternative forms of governance (Bolos 2003, Tejera 2009), which includes new participatory routes to implement local public policy. This issue raises new questions about the future of grassroots organizations, and requires research with the lens of those who seek new politicization forms in the city and changing types of social relationships. A socio spatial perspective of political behavior must take into account multiple determinations affecting poor neighborhoods and local actors. Practicing local politics implies a particular insertion in the life of the city and its institutions (Merklen 2005). For this reason, investigate citizenship regimes as ways of belonging to a whole social-institucional, is part of an ongoing study of the ties and networks of social relations. The processes of urbanization in Latin America have been constraints of particular forms of political action and urban protest. The marginal mass can be seen as passive and non competent agents for the exercise of full citizenship (simply looking for material survival in deprived conditions. But there are also groups that can organize and deploy collective action. Both perspectives can also be integrated in a large analytical model, where poor people politics are embedded in a set o social networks and institutional settings. 4. Research Design and Methodology “Is urban politics worth studying at all, or is the urban political realm so subordinate to, dependent on, and constrained by its economics and social context that factors from this domain have little independent explanatory power?” (Mollenkopf, 1996: 236). The research analyzes the current political and organizational practices within three poor neighborhoods (colonias populares) in Mexico City 3 . Each case study shows an internal diversity in terms of social actors and performance of local politicians (or operadores políticos) as well as local government officials and social programs. All of them, comparatively, allow us to recreate the situated networks of social and political relations in which urban poor people live and claim for sociopolitical rights and urban services (here I use a Simmelian perspective). The resulting scrutinized set of relations will let us understand how deprived urban conditions shape urban popular politics. The twofold research design of my dissertation attempts to capture the performance of intermediate social and political organizations within the local political realm (the “interface” between state and society). First, I use quantitative data and institutional analysis to situate the social, economical and institutional milieu in which poor urban people live. I use regression analysis to explore specific correlations between electoral behavior, political participation, and urban segregation. I use data from last local (municipal) elections and a set of statistical data (social development indexes, and urban marginality and segregation indexes) 4 . Then, I reconstruct the set of local government offices and social programs that deal with local public policy in these poor neighborhoods. Second, I use an ethnographic approach to dissect the local urban regime from below, and capture the political daily live in the neighborhoods. During my fieldwork (2010-2011), I have followed local actors (popular leaders, local activists, political parties, and low range officials) in their quotidian activities, in order to link their currents practices with those large-structural manifestations of urban poverty as well as with local and extra-local political institutions. Accordingly with the structural and institutional analysis, what I want to describe (using ethnography and live stories) and analyze are those situated strategies used by poor people to claim for urban services, social inclusion and their social and political rights. Both perspectives, from above and from below, configure an evaluation of sociopolitical intermediation in which poor people live. To explain these mechanisms of sociopolitical intermediation, it is not rare that academics continue talking about “patronage” or “clientelism”, but I prefer to use the more analytical and neutral idea of “social and political ties”. Following this path, I have collected evidence to explain how “intermediating institutions” (a concept that I take from David Harvey) are built differently from below in each case, although those three poor neighborhoods apparently have the same structural conditions. This is to explain (through the understanding of social 3 The neighborhoods (colonias) are: a) Mesa los Hornos, b) Miguel Hidalgo II and c) La Fama. All of them are situated in the municipality (delegación) of Tlalpan, in Mexico City. 4 Data from Instituto Electoral del Distrito Federal (www.iedf.org.mx) and Secretaría de Desarrollo Social del Distrito Federal (www.evalua.df.gob.mx). mechanisms of intermediation) why “patronage” or “clientelism” should not be used as a tout court categories in social sciences. 5. Project Significance In deprivation contexts, it seems unlikely that cities are able to accomplish its functions of social integration and the realization of economic, social, cultural and political conditions for urban citizens. This project wants to clarify the mechanisms used by poor people to claim for social inclusion, as an attempt to understand large social conditions required to build citizenship from below. Correlatively, the project study institutional initiatives to promote participation. If we understand the gaps between social actors and political institutions, we may design a further policy reforms to favor political participation as a way to fight against social destitution. Bibliography Álvarez, Lucía, 2004, La sociedad civil en la ciudad de México. Actores sociales, oportunidades políticas y esfera pública, UNAM, Plaza y Valdés, México. Álvarez, Lucía, Carlos San Juan, Cristina Sánchez, coordinadores, 2006, Democracia y exclusión: caminos encontrados en la Ciudad de México, UNAM, UAM, UACM, INAH, Plaza y Valdés, México. Ariza, Marina y Juan Manuel Ramírez, 2008, “Urbanización, mercado de trabajo y escenarios sociales en el México finisecular”, en A. Portes, B. Roberts y A. Grimson, coordinadores, Ciudades latinoamericanas. Un análisis comparativo en el umbral del nuevo siglo, M.A. Porrúa, U. A. Zacatecas, México, pp. Auyero, Javier, 2001, La política de los pobres. Las prácticas clientelistas del peronismo, Manantial, Argentina. Bolos, Silvia, 1999, La constitución de actores sociales y la política, Universidad Iberoamericana, Plaza y Valdés Editores, México. Bolos, Silvia, 2003, Organizaciones sociales y gobiernos municipales. Construcción de nuevas formas de participación, Universidad Iberoamericana, México. Bolos, Silvia, coordinadora, 1995, Actores sociales y demandas urbanas, Universidad Iberoamericana, Plaza y Valdés Editores, México. CONAPO, 2005, Índice de marginalidad urbana, Consejo Nacional de Población (www.conapo.gob.mx). Cordera, Rolando, Patricia Ramírez y Alicia Ziccardi, coordinadores, 2008, Pobreza, desigualdad y exclusión social en la ciudad del siglo XXI, Siglo XXI, IIS, Unam, México. Cornelius, Wayne, 1980 (1975), Los inmigrantes pobres en la Ciudad de México y la política, FCE, México. Davis, Mike, 2006, Planet of Slums, Verso, 2006. Evalua DF, 2011, Índice del grado de desarrollo social de las unidades territoriales del Distrito Federal, Consejo de Evaluación del Desarrollo Social del DF. Gómez-Tagle, Silvia, 2000, “Nuevas formaciones políticas en el Distrito Federal”, en S. GómezTagle y M.E. Valles, coordinadoras, La geografía política y las elecciones en México, IFE, Plaza y Valdés, México, pp. 39-94. Gutmann, Matthew, 2009 (2002), El romance de la democracia. Rebeldía sumisa en el México contemporáneo, FCE, México. Haber, Paul, 2009, “La migración del Movimiento Urbano Popular a la política de partido en el México contemporáneo”, en Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Vol. 71, No. 2, abril-junio, pp. 213-245. Harvey, David, 2007 (2001), Espacios del capital. Hacia una geografía crítrica, Akal, Madrid. Lewis, Oscar, 2009 (1959), Antropología de la pobreza. Cinco familias, FCE, México. Lomnitz, Larissa, 1975, Cómo sobreviven los marginados, Siglo XXI, México. Merklen, Denis, 2005, Pobres ciudadanos. Las clases populares en la era democrática (Argentina, 1983-2003), Ed. Gorla, Buenos Aires. Mollenkopf, John, 1996 , “How to Study Urban Political Power”, en Richard T. LeGates,Frederic Stout, editores, The City Reader, Routledge, Nueva York, pp. 235-243. Paladino, Martín, 2010, Intermediación clientelar de demandas sociales y movilizaicón política. La vivienda en la Ciudad de México, Tesis doctoral, Flacso-México, México. Portes, Alejandro, Bryan Roberts, Alejandro Grimson, coordinadores, 2008, Ciudades latinoamericanas. Un análisis comparativo en el umbral del nuevo siglo, M.A. Porrúa, U. A. Zacatecas, México. Ramírez Sáinz, Juan Manuel, 1986, El movimiento urbano popular en México, IIS-Unam, México. Ramírez Sáiz, Juan Manuel, 2002, “Impacto urbano de la organización y de la protesta populares en México, 1980-2002”, Informe de avance, Proyecto “Latin American Urbanization in the Late Twentieth Century: A Comparative Study”, 24 páginas. Tarrés, María Luisa, 1990, “Participación social y política de las clases medias”, en Centro de Estudios Sociológicos, El Colegio de México, México en el umbral del milenio, CESColmex, México, pp. 83-119. Tarrés, María Luisa, 1991, “Campos de acción social y política de la mujer de clase media”, en Vania Salles y Elsie McPhail, coordinadoras, Textos y pre-textos. Once estudios sobre la mujer, El Colegio de México, PIEM, México, pp. 77-115. Tarrés, María Luisa, 1994, “Demandas democráticas y participación electoral en la ciudad de México. Notas a partir de dos estudios de casos”, en Roberto Blancarte, coordinador, Estado de México. Perspectivas para la década de los 90, El Colegio Mexiquense, Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura, México, pp. 627-663. Tejera Gaona, Héctor, 2009, “Prácticas políticas, imaginarios y ciudadanía: las disonancias entre cultura y democracia en la ciudad de México”, en Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Vol. 71, No. 2, abril-junio, pp. 247-285. Tejera, Héctor, 2003, No se olvide de nosotros cuando este allá arriba. Cultura, ciudadanos y campañas políticas en la ciudad de México, UAM, U.Iberoamericana, M.A.Porrúa Editoes, México. Tosoni, María Magdalena, 2007, “Notas sobre el clientelismo político en la Ciudad de México”, en Perfiles Latinoamericanos, No, 29, Flacso-México, DF., pp. 47-69. Vélez-Ibáñez, Carlos, 1991 (1983), La política de lucha y resistencia: procesos y cambios culturales en el México central urbano, 1969-1974, FCE, México. Ziccardi, Alicia, 2008, “Ciudades latinoamericanas: procesos de marginalidad y exclusión social”, en A. Ziccardi, R. Cordera y P. Ramírez, coordinadores, 2008, Pobreza, desigualdad y exclusión social en la ciudad del siglo XXI, UNAM, IIS, Siglo XXI, México, pp. 73-91.