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    In the name of the land : organization, transnationalism, and the culture of the state in a Mexican Ejido
    Nuijten, M. - \ 1998
    Agricultural University. Promotor(en): N.E. Long. - S.l. : Nuijten - ISBN 9789054859765 - 407
    plattelandsgemeenschappen - landbouwhervorming - landhervorming - grondeigendom - grondbeheer - boerenstand - boeren - migratie - staatsregering - cultuur - mexico - verhoudingen tussen bevolking en staat - bureaucratie - rural communities - agrarian reform - land reform - land ownership - land management - peasantry - farmers - migration - state government - culture - mexico - relations between people and state - bureaucracy - cum laude

    This study is based on research carried out during several periods from mid 1991 to mid 1995 in the ejido La Canoa in Jalisco, western Mexico, and in several government agencies. The study focuses in particular on the period between the 1930s and 1992 when the Mexican agrarian law was fundamentally changed. The last chapters of the book discuss the change of the agrarian law in 1992.

    The study shows how over the years organizing practices developed with respect to the access to ejido plots and the management of the ejido which differed from the prescriptions of the law. For example, the division of the arable plots, the selling of these plots, renting them out, or leaving them unused were all illegal practices which became common in ejidos throughout Mexico. It also became a common phenomenon that instead of the ejido assembly, in which all ejidatarios are represented, the head of the ejido, the commissioner, took decisions on his own. Likewise, the rules were also seldom applied in the resolution of land conflicts by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR). Land conflicts between ejidatarios and private land owners abound and many have never been resolved. In this study the conflict of the "lost land" is discussed. This concerns a conflict over land that officially belongs to the ejido La Canoa but which since the thirties has been in the hands of several private landholders.

    In this book it its argued that the labeling of the above mentioned practices in a functionalist way as "disorganized" or "corrupt" forms part of modernist discourses of development and does not bring us any nearer to an understanding of these dynamics, nor to an insight into the precise role played by the official rules and formal institutions. It is argued that these practices are the result of active organizing by ejidatarios, as well as officials and other social actors. Furthermore, it is shown that in the myriad of activities which are labeled as "illegal", "disorganized", and "corrupt" we can also distinguish certain organizing patterns. For example, in chapter five it was shown that in the many "illegal" arrangements with ejido plots we can distinguish a certain pattern in the way these were organized and that in these arrangements other ejidatarios, officials of the MAR, the ejido commissioner, and the ejido assembly play specific roles.

    In chapter six a different form of patterning of organizing practices has been discussed. There it was shown, among other things, that the executive committee of the ejido never renders accounts of their activities at public ejido meetings, but that alternative forms of accountability exist and other effective mechanisms by which the ejidatarios control their executive committee. Namely, through informal channels, gossips, and regional political networks. In this context the ejido meetings have turned into arenas for bickering and confrontation and have developed symbolic roles in distinguishing between "insiders" and "outsiders". At the same time the official ejido structure becomes important in the case of serious conflicts. Then the "formal game is played" together with the use of informal political pressures.

    It is argued that this structuring of organizing practices in unexpected and often "invisible" ways always occurs around the management of resources, and in relation to institutional settings. This book sets out the way that all forms of organizing take place in wider force fields. A force field is defined as a field of power and struggle between different social actors around certain resources or problems and around which certain forms of dominance, contention, and resistance may develop, as well as certain regularities and forms of ordering. The assumption is that all forms of organizing, even the most "private" or "illegal" ones, develop within fields of power. In this view, the patterning of organizing processes which we may find are not the result of a common understanding or normative agreement, but of the forces at play within the field.

    It has been shown that the development of forms of ordering in organizing practices is closely related to forms of exclusion of certain social categories. Different groups can be distinguished with differing roles, different access to resources, and differing rights. The concept of force field also helps us to analyze the precise role of the law and official procedures.

    The assumptions is that multiple force fields exist which develop their own dynamic and have different specific implications for the people involved. This means that in relation to certain resources and problems ejidatarios may develop a high degree of autonomy, while around others they have little "room for manoeuvre". The organizing practices around the arable plots in the ejido led to much autonomy for the ejidatarios, though the law, the bureaucratic procedures and the officials were always present as a "distant threat". On the other hand, the bureaucracy has been much less present in relation to organizing in the common lands. Around the commons ejidatarios and landless villagers have great autonomy to act without interference from the state bureaucracy. While, around the arable land and the commons the ejidatarios have developed a high degree of autonomy, around the "lost land" they obviously operate in a force field in which they are relatively powerless. There we find ejidatarios in a hopeless fight against private landowners. Hence, we cannot talk in a generalized way about the structural position of ejidatarios vis-á-vis regional elites, or about the nature of their relation with the Mexican state. This differs according to the resources and problems at stake.

    In this approach, social theorizing, reflexive talk, and story-telling by social actors are considered to be a central part of the organizing process. These dialogues reflect a continuous active engagement of social actors with the world around them. Furthermore, the creation and re-creation of stories are considered to be a way of ordering the world around us and of arriving at the best strategies to be followed in the organizing process. Organizing practices are always related to the production of meaning and in this book it has been shown how the organizing practices around different resources in specific force fields are accompanied by reflective talk, ideological notions, irony, and the production of multiple meanings through imagination and the work of interpretation. These dialogues reflect forms of struggle, contention, and resistance in relation to existing organizing practices and relations of power.

    As has been shown in this book, ejidatarios have a complicated and contradictory relation with the Mexican state. The state was their ally in the fight against the hacendados during the period of agrarian reform and it has also been the provider of all kinds of services (schools, water, electricity). However, in other instances the state is viewed as a corrupt and violent enemy which is greatly feared and distrusted by the people. Hence, we have an image of the Mexican state as the protector and oppressor of the ejidatarios at the same time. Images of the state conjoin notions of evil with goodness. For that reason, the ejidatarios may be supportive and enthusiastic towards the Mexican President at one moment, and cynical and distrustful about his speeches at another moment. Or they can laugh about themselves being deceived by the democratic and liberalizing discourse of a president who later on proved to be one of the worst swindlers the country ever saw. The ejidatarios can be proud of being part of the Mexican nation-state project but at the same time they can criticize powerholders for their corruption and for their squeezing of the peasants.

    I have argued that the continuous theorizing about power and politics in society not only concerns a rationalization of actions but also an investment in the "idea of the state", in other words, an investment in the belief of the existence of a center of control. This does not mean that practices of authority and control do not exist but that people tend to look for a coherence and logic which does not exist. These imaginations which are constitutive of the "culture of the state", are based upon experiences and are mediated by a series of governmental techniques and by the media, education, and movies. The "culture of the state" is central to the operation of the bureaucracy as a "hope-generating machine". The "hope-generating machine" gives the message that everything is possible, that cases are never closed, and that things will be different from now on. This permeates all aspects of life and triggers powerful responses. However, rather than producing a certain rationality and coherence, the bureaucratic machine generates enjoyments, pleasures, fears and expectations. Although people are never naive, during certain periods they can become inspired and enthusiastic about new programs and new openings that are offered to them. Yet, doubts never totally disappear.

    It is also argued that in this context of a decentered "hope-generating machine" without a clear center and coherence, brokers do often not play a role in effectively connecting ejidatarios to "the state", but play a role in the imagination of state power. By suggesting that they are the "right connection" to higher levels and to the "center of control" brokers contribute to the "idea of the state". In the same way, by searching for the "right connection" which can help them to resolve their problems, ejidatarios invest in the "idea of the state". Ejidatarios and bureaucrats are implicated in the cultural representation of the state through processes of rationalization, speculation, the construction of fantasies, etc. but also through processes of fetishization, that is the attribution to certain objects such as maps and documents with special powers. In this complex of desire and fantasy, inscription is very important. People develop a fetishism around certain official documents, even when they cannot "read" these documents according to official standards.

    The same can be said of bureaucrats who tend to reify the law, in spite of "knowing" that official procedures do not play a central role in the outcome of highly politicized land conflicts. In these processes, the "idea of the state" is objectivized and fixed in maps, documents, and other legal texts. Hence, see a "re-enchantment of governmental techniques" as they acquire symbolic meanings beyond their administrative functions.

    Landbouw en maatschappij : analyse van een boerenbeweging in de crisisjaren
    Ru, J.H. de - \ 1980
    Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen. Promotor(en): E.W. Hofstee. - Wageningen : de Ru - 377
    landbouw - belangengroepen - sociale wetenschappen - geschiedenis - instellingen - particuliere organisaties - semi-overheidsbedrijven - nederland - fascisme - agrarische geschiedenis - verhoudingen tussen bevolking en staat - cum laude - agriculture - interest groups - social sciences - history - institutions - private organizations - semiprivate organizations - netherlands - fascism - agricultural history - relations between people and state
    In the early 1930s a farmers' movement began in de northern parts of the Netherlands, which also extended to the national level. The 1920s had been a decade of no prosperity for agriculture. The Great Depression became in the early thirties a catastrophe. Discontent was widespread. In 1931, action groups and crisis committees were springing up in many rural areas. Out of these scattered actions crystallized the farmers' movement "Landbouw en Maatschappij" ("Agriculture and Society"), which is subject of this study. The movement is analyzed from its emergence in 1931 to its decline and end in 1940, after the German invasion in the Netherlands. In November 1940, a fusion occurred between Landbouw en Maatschappij and the agrarian organization of the N.S.B., the Dutch national- socialist movement. This does not mean, however, that the movement should be characterized as an extremist "political" movement from its very beginning. On the contrary, it did not radicalize until the end of the thirties, after continuous frustration of its rather moderate demands.

    The movement rose in those areas - such as the sandy soils and the peat-colonies - which were hit most severely by the economic crisis and least supported by government policies for agriculture. It centered in the province Drenthe and adjacent areas. Farmers were not only disgruntled and articulate because of the economic distress, but also because of the relative deprivation they experienced.
    In 1922, prices of farm products were about half the 1920 level. From 1928 on, they were halved again within a few years. Farm prices fell more rapidly and much more severely than did prices of industrial products, and in 1931, dropped below the 1910-1914 level. Wages still averaged at that time about twice the pre-war level. According to Jan Smid, agricultural economist and the well-known ideological leader of Landbouw en Maatschappij, this disparate movement of prices and wages was largely due to the controlling power of the large industrial enterprises over prices and the power of the unions to resist wage reduction. Farmers, lacking such power, were facing the extremely low and unstable world prices. Further rationalization of individual farms would offer no solace, as Smid pointed out, and farmers' cooperatives, another form of self-help, would not solve the economic problems. The goal of Landbouw en Maatschappij was, therefore, aimed at influencing legislation affecting farm prices.
    Political parties were to be supported only in so far as they would endorse the goals of the movement. The movement's program was formulated by Smid. He diagnosed and explained the economic malaise and sketched the outlines for a new farm
    policy. Several of his ideas won rather general acceptance by the end of the 1940s, although in the thirties they were heavily criticized. Landbouw en Maatschappij had "socialistic" as well as "capitalistic" adversaries, but the three large farm organizations in the Netherlands also opposed its "political" activities. The movement was considered a rivalling group that might further divide the farm population, and could harm the position and influence of the established organizations.
    In spite of a promising start. the movement did not succeed in overcoming the religious. socioeconomic, and political divisions of the farm population and in uniting farmers in a kind of powerful "green front". The bargaining strategy, directed toward the political parties with the votes of the members as exchangeable value, had some success in the early thirties, but failed afterwards. Membership of the movement was not large enough and the movement could not command a total loyalty, as soon became clear.
    A parity income in agriculture was not realized in the 1930s - so to that date the movement did not achieve an appreciable
    measure of success. Certainly, it stimulated the political awareness of many farmers; it re-evaluated the worth of the
    farm population by emphasizing its social and cultural importance; and it enhanced the self-esteem of many farmers. However, the movement could not do without any economic success. This was clearly realized by its leaders, and indicated by the calming of enthusiasm and the stabilization and later decline of the movement's membership in the second half of the 1930s.
    Failure to achieve some tangible success and an increasing alienation from the established political parties contributed, as noted earlier, to the radicalization of the move ment. It should be mentioned also. that, already in the thirties, the movement was severely discredited by the charge of having "fascist sympathies". After the fusion with the agrarian organization of the N.S.B., in November 1940, Landbouw en Maatschappij lost the greater part of its memberships. Several of its most important leaders, however, sooner of later joined the national-socialist movement.

    The book gives a detailed analysis of conditions influencing the rise and development of Landbouw en Maatschappij.
    The global theoretical framework of the analysis, outlined and evaluated in the first chapters, is mainly based on ideas developed by Smelser in his Theory of Collective Behavior.
    Notwithstanding all criticism that might be leveled - and is leveled - against Smelser's theoretical model, his discussion of the major determinants of a social movement: structural conduciveness, structural strain, growth and spread of a generalized belief, mobilization of participants for action, operation of social control, is highly interesting. Theoretically fruitful is the idea of the value-added process, as a means for organizing the determinants into an explanatory model. Of course, the model - as perhaps all important theoretical models in sociology - falls short in explanatory power when the study of a concrete social movement is attempted. It is too abstract and static, the variables are too global. As a theoretical orientation, however, the model is very useful, particularly when the sociologist (or historian) is interested in the differential development of a movement.
    The analysis of Landbouw en Maatschappij is based on the determinants mentioned, situationally specified. More than Smelser, the author emphasizes the relevance of the movement's strategy for its course of development. The interaction between the movement and its relevant social environment is extensively dealt with. Several specific hypotheses, mainly derived from studies of Turner and Landsberger, were tested, others, very tentatively formulated. (Needless to say, in this "case-study" of a movement no vigorous testing of hypotheses is possible.)
    The study indicates the importance of a "diachronic" analysis of a movement for a better understanding of the factors influencing its development.
    Smelser's theoretical approach implies that the several determinants should be present at the same place and the same time for a movement to occur. The present analysis cannot demonstrate that those factors are all necessary and together constitute the sufficient condition for the emergence of a movement. This proposition, in view of the global character of the variables, can scarcely be tested. In spite of this, it was possible to show how the presence of a combination of different factors facilitated the rise and development of the movement, and how the absence of certain conditions has prevented its development into a truly national movement. In Drenthe and surrounding areas, conditions were favorable for the emergence and development of Landbouw en Maatschappij; elsewhere they were much less conducive to its growth. The analysis of the movement is based mainly on a variety of qualitative data. Only for one variable, the heterogeneity of the farmers' group, could some reliable statistical information on group (i.e. municipality) level be applied. Heterogeneity here refers to differences in farm size, religion, and political affiliation; all variables that in the preceding qualitative analysis seemed pertinent to the differential development of the movement. With these quantitative variables and an index for the degree of organization of Landbouw en Maatschappij, an ecological analysis was performed. Although the group correlations, also worthwhile in themselves, cannot be used as substitutes for individual correlations, the results of the regression analysis generally correspond with the conclusions of the earlier qualitative analysis.

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