In her absorbing ethnography of the everyday practice of public policy, Dolores M. Byrnes focuses on Mi Comunidad, a job-creation program founded in 1996 by Vicente Fox when he was governor of Guanajuato. This program was intended to reduce migration and became an important source of empowerment for small businesses in rural Mexico. A significant aspect of the program is the way it encourages former residents who have successfully migrated to the United States to invest in the maquilas back home. Byrnes's close look at policy implementation reveals changing relationships between families and the state.Working as a volunteer in Mi Comunidad, Byrnes attempted to understand how the program worked. As she traveled from site to site with the two female state employees who implemented the program's policies, she saw that program practices reproduced middle-class values rather than female solidarity. In spite of this, she argues for the potential of female professional power, with implications for democracy and social justice. Perhaps most interesting of all, Byrnes portrays the formation of nonborder maquilas in rich detail and shows how government employees at the local level personally engage in "driving the state."
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"Driving the State achieves much more than simply telling the story of the strengths and weaknesses of the Mi Comunidad project. The case study is nested in a multilevel account that illuminates politics, economics, culture, and gender in contemporary Mexico and that is linked to a commendable range of literature in a host of disciplines."—Susan Tiano, University of New Mexico
"In a riveting account of her participation in the Mi Comunidad program, Dolores Byrnes illuminates the everyday exchanges of public policy by focusing on the individuals behind ‘the state.’ Byrnes’s keen powers of observation, sophisticated analysis, and elegant writing make this book both necessary and pleasurable reading for all who seek to understand politics and public policy in contemporary Mexico."—Maria Lorena Cook, Cornell University
"Dolores Byrnes helps us conceptualize ‘the state’ in Latin America and understand the personal and gendered ways power is embodied. Her provocative book will attract a broad audience and interest readers in a number of fields."—William French, University of British ColumbiaAbout the Author:
Dolores M. Byrnes is Research Associate at Colgate University.
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