Qualitative Experiences of a Quantitative Success: Grassroots Experiences of a Mexican Poverty Alleviation Programme

Berenice Rivera Macias
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This paper reflects my interest in looking at the grassroots experiences of Oportunidades, a Mexican poverty alleviation programme. With an ethnographic, sociologically informed analysis of such experiences, I will try to contribute to the argument in favour of interdisciplinarity. Such is not a novel proposal; nevertheless the evaluations of Oportunidades, for instance, have felt far short from representing sensitive aspects of what is going on throughout its implementation. For example, a compromise of different studies about such programme could provide of a better understanding of its processes.

Diverse studies see statistics as a reflection of an improvement of the poverty levels in Mexico, therefore showing Oportunidades as a success. Yet figures are not the only available representations of human lives, they are only figures. For instance, the programme has been uncritically delivered to the diverse levels of institutional staff who deliver it in the same way to the grassroots personnel. There are challenges that are dealt with at the micro-level which can also define the success or failure of the programme. Some of those challenges - different ethnicity and different hermeneutics - and the way they are dealt with might not be represented in most of those figures.

By looking at the micro-level of Oportunidades implementation, at the experiences throughout the diverse set of interactions at the grassroots, I intend to build up an ontologically rich analysis of difficulties which more quantitative analyses might have left aside. Perhaps research from different qualitative approaches could offer a light to such phenomena and also a different, richer perspective to them. My argument is based on some of the ethnographic evidence gathered from the fieldwork carried on in a semi-rural town in the southern province of Veracruz in Mexico.

Keywords: Oportunidades Programme, Experiences at the micro-level, Grassroots personnel, Programme recipients
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Qualitative Experiences of a Quantitative Success

Berenice Rivera Macias

PhD candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

Ref: H05P0342