Brian Palmer-Rubin, "Evading the Patronage Trap: Interest Representation in Mexico" (U Michigan Press, 2022)


Marquette University Political Scientist Brian Palmer-Rubin has a new book that examines the connections and disconnections between economics and politics in Mexico and how the varied governing institutions within the federated system structure levels of inequality. Palmer-Rubin’s book, Evading the Patronage Trap: Interest Representation in Mexico (U Michigan Press, 2022) examines organizations as they interact with individuals and with government in the push and pull of politics and as advocates for particular interests. This model, which is essentially a story about organizations and how they work, is not, per se, specific to Mexico; there are similar examples of this kind of interaction and engagement in Brazil, in India, and elsewhere. The organizations at the heart of this research are not political parties, but instead they are conglomerates of individuals or smaller associations with particular interests—specifically economic policy and implementation—that often want policy reforms or policy outcomes from the local, regional, or national government. Parties play a role in this dynamic, but they are not the whole story.

Palmer-Rubin spent significant time doing field work in a variety of rural locations, interviewing individuals, political and party actors, members of different kinds of associations, and government officials. This research fleshes out the examples and case studies at the center of the research. There have been improvements in politics and economics in Mexico since the 1990s, and this period of transition provides the historical context to explore both the patronage and the programmatic models that have evolved over the decades following the transition period. Evading the Patronage Trap focuses on the differences between rural organizations that often represent individual farms and farmers, and mid-level business organizations that represent economic and business interests. These differing types of organizations also align, a bit, with the various political parties in Mexico. The research explores how organizations and associations sustain collective action, mobilize their respective members, and how they interact with, sometimes collaboratively, sometimes antagonistically, political parties and governmental institutions in efforts to breakdown structural and economic inequities.

Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), Email her comments at or tweet to @gorenlj.

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Lilly Goren

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

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