Hierarchy and Trust in Modern Mexico and Brazil

By Luis Roniger | Go to book overview

constitute a sound foundation for long-term dependence. Rather, in order to be legitimized, routine exchange and control of goods and services has to be placed within the meaningful context of broader commitments, that is, of values such as trustworthiness, loyalty, and honor. Hence, a strong interpersonal component--one that amalgamates images of personal identity with concepts of obligation--is necessary for hierarchical obligations to bind partners in a strong, unconditional manner. As these concepts of obligation are fragile, and as dependence on others cannot supersede the ontological value of the dominated individual, he is likely to accept social hierarchies only half-heartedly.

It thus appears that tensions surfaced in Latin American social hierarchies as a result of the stress these Western cultures have traditionally placed on the universalistic or quasi-universalistic egalitarian nature of individuals, the openness of the social system and--following capitalistic penetration--the ideological emphasis on opportunities for mobility.

The ideological force of equality in modern Latin America can be fully understood by returning to the imagery of honor and loyalty associated with the struggle for and competition over the control of resources and the attainment of social preeminence. Claims to honor involve a demand for public recognition of one's capacity to defend a coveted rank and to establish superiority over another person. 20 While such claims to preeminence are not unrelated to social standing, neither are they prescribed within the limits of any ascriptive collectivity or group. They are, in fact, egalitarian by nature, since the resolution of opposing claims to power and social recognition has depended on the results of competition rather than on precedence deriving from birth or associated to status. Thus, while power and instrumental elements certainly influence outcomes, there is still great leeway in confrontations, which not surprisingly often focused on such individual attributes as manliness.

The proliferation of such confrontations imply that Latin American social hierarchies contain a basic dimension of openness, mobility, and change evolving out of an egalitarian perception of self as distinct from, thus in a position to reconstruct, the social order. The crucial point is that, even though many such (one may say "egalitarian") confrontations have evolved into hierarchical reconstructions of reality, these reconstructions have themselves been repeatedly challenged by actors projecting alternative visions of the social order.


CONCLUSION

The approach adopted in this book invites a perception of clientelistic arrangements as more than the mere consequence of unequal distribution of goods and services among social actors in the framework of stratified class settings in peripheral and semiperipheral areas of the world system.

-197-

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Hierarchy and Trust in Modern Mexico and Brazil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 Clientelism and Trust 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 2 Hierarchy and Clientelism in Latin America 21
  • Notes 33
  • Chapter 3 the Institutional Context of Mexico and Brazil 35
  • Notes 54
  • Chapter 4 Clientelism in Mexico 57
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 5 Clientelism in Brazil 97
  • Notes 141
  • Chapter 6 Cross-National Comparison of Mexican and Brazilian Clientelism 145
  • Notes 156
  • Chapter 7 Multi-Dimensional Comparison of Network Variability 159
  • Notes 177
  • Chapter 8 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Mexican and Brazilian Clientelism 179
  • Conclusion 197
  • Notes 199
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 237
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