Policy Sciences

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 137–162

Social process as everyday practice: the micro politics of community-based conservation and development in southeastern Mexico

Article

Abstract

This article explores the everyday exchanges associated with community-based natural resources management in southeastern Mexico to suggest how formal and informal social practices shape conservation and development outcomes. Discussions of social process in most policy analyses emphasize formal exchanges based in rational action but typically overlook the impact of everyday social practices, which often occur “off-stage.” First, I build on existing conceptualizations of social process in the policy sciences by exploring culturally-informed approaches focused on everyday practice, infrapolitics, and performance. Second, I present a case study detailing the emergence and decline of a timber marketing fund to reveal how informal lending among community members contributed to the decapitalization of the fund. Third, I trace flows of economic capital from the fund in order to discuss specific policy outcomes. Fourth, I present ethnographic and archival evidence showing the persistence and frequency of informal lending, the performative aspects of local social process, and the character of “off-stage” interactions. I conclude with a discussion of social process that extends analysis beyond values-based outcomes to consider how long-standing practices based in particular logics (political cultures) collide with formalized (technocratic) practices of the public sphere. I employ this conceptual approach to critically examine questions of petty corruption and local conflict, to uncover multiple dimensions of micro political interaction, and to explore how cultural perspectives on social process might inform policy responses.

Keywords

Social process Political culture Infrapolitics Governance Power Community Conservation Development Mexico 

References

  1. Agrawal, A., & Gibson, C. (2001). Communities and the environment: Ethnicity, gender, and the state in community-based conservation. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Biersack, A., & Greenberg, J. (2006). Reimagining political ecology. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: Keegan-Paul.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 231–258). New York, NY: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brunner, R. D. (1991). The policy movement as a policy problem. Policy Sciences, 24, 65–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brunner, R. D. (1996). Central theory seminar. New Haven, CT: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. February 13–14. Unpublished document.Google Scholar
  10. Brunner, R. D. (1997a). Introduction to the policy sciences. Policy Sciences, 30, 191–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brunner, R. D. (1997b). Teaching the Policy Sciences: Reflections on a graduate seminar. Policy Sciences, 30, 217–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brunner, R. D. (2006). A paradigm for practice. Policy Sciences, 39, 135–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brunner, R. D., & Ascher, W. (1992). Science and social responsibility. Policy Sciences, 25, 295–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, T. W. (2002). The policy process: A practical guide for natural resource professionals. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Digeser, P. (1992). The fourth face of power. The Journal of Politics, 54, 977–1007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Forester, J. (1999). The deliberative practitioner: Encouraging participatory planning processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  18. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  19. Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual. New York, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  20. Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  21. Grootaert, C., & van Bastelaer, T. (Eds.). (2002a). The role of social capital in development: An empirical assessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Grootaert, C., & van Bastelaer, T. (2002b). Understanding and measuring social capital: A multidisciplinary tool for practitioners. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  23. Guha, R. (1989). The unquiet woods: Ecological change and peasant resistance in the Himalayas. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hayward, C. (2000). Defacing power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Igoe, J., & Fortwangler, C. (2007). Whither communities and conservation? International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management, 3, 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografia e Informática (INEGI). (2000). XII Censo General de Población y Vivienda, Principales Resultados por Localidad. Aguascalientes: INEGI. Data available at www.inegi.gob.mx.
  27. Krishna, A. (2002). Active social capital: Tracing the roots of development and democracy. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lasswell, H. D. (1971). A pre-view of policy sciences. New York, NY: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  29. Lasswell, H. D., & Kaplan, A. (1950). Power and society. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lasswell, H. D., & MacDougal, M. S. (1992). Jurisprudence for a free society. New Haven, CT and Dordrecht: New Haven Press and Martines Jijhoff.Google Scholar
  31. Lofland, J., Snow, D., Anderson, L., & Lofland, L. (2005). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  32. Miles, M., & Huberman, M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Mota, J. L. (2002). Estudio de Caso de Integración Horizontal: Sociedad de Productores Forestales Ejidales de Quintana Roo, S.C., Interamerican Development Bank Report ATN-NP-7444-RS. Washington, DC: Interamerican Development Bank. Available at http://www.iadb.org/en2/estudios/estudiomexico2.html. Accessed on 4 March 2007.
  34. Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Paulson, S., & Gezon, L. (Eds.). (2005). Political ecology across spaces, scales, and social groups. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Peet, R., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2004). Liberation ecologies: Environment, development, social movements (2nd ed.). London, UK and New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  38. Scott, J. C. (1985). Weapons of the weak: Everyday forms of peasant resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Scott, J. C. (1990). Domination and the arts of resistance: Hidden transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Scott, J. C. (1998). Seeing like a state: How certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Smith, R. C. (1995). The gift that wounds: Charity, the gift economy, and social solidarity in indigenous Amazonia. Paper delivered at Forest Ecosystems in the Americas: Community Management and Sustainability, Madison, WI, 3–4 February.Google Scholar
  42. Somers, M. (1998). We’re no angels: Realism, rational choice, and relationality in social science. American Journal of Sociology, 104, 722–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. SPFEQR. (2000). Informe Final. Anualidad 17. Chetumal, QR: SPFEQR.Google Scholar
  44. Swartz, D. (1997). Power and culture: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. Thompson, W. B. (2001). Policy making through thick and thin: Thick description as a methodology of communications and democracy. Policy Sciences, 34, 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Torgerson, D. (1985). Contextual orientation in policy analysis: The contribution of Harold D. Lasswell. Policy Sciences, 18, 241–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wacquant, L. (2007). Pierre Bourdieu. In Stones (Ed.), Key sociological thinkers (2nd ed., pp. 261–277). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  48. Wilshusen, P. (2003a). Negotiating devolution: Community conflict, structural power, and local forest management in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  49. Wilshusen, P. (2003b). The political contours of conservation: A conceptual view of power in practice. In Brechin, Wilshusen, Fortwangler, & West (Eds.), Contested nature: Toward international biodiversity with social justice in the 21st century (pp. 41–58). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wilshusen, P. (2005). Community adaptation or collective breakdown? The emergence of ‘work groups’ in two forestry ejidos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. In M.-P. Bray & Barry (Eds.), The community forests of Mexico: Managing for sustainable landscapes (pp. 151–179). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wilshusen, P. (2008). Shades of social capital: Elite persistence and the everyday politics of community forestry in southeastern Mexico. Environment and Planning A (in press).Google Scholar
  52. Wuthnow, R. (1987). Meaning and moral order: Explorations in cultural analysis. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA

Personalised recommendations