Article written by Javier Auyero, 2009 DPDF Critical Agrarian Studies Fellow Pablo Lapegna, and Fernanda Page Poma, featured in Latin American Politics and Society, Volume 51, No. 3:
Based on ethnographic reanalysis and on current qualitative research on poor people’s politics, this article argues that routine patronage politics and nonroutine collective action should be examined not as opposite and conflicting political phenomena but as dynamic processes that often establish recursive relationships. Through a series of case studies conducted in contemporary Argentina, this article examines four instances in which patronage and collective action intersect and interact: network breakdown, patron’s certification, clandestine support, and reaction to threat. These four scenarios demonstrate that more than two opposing spheres of action or two different forms of sociability, patronage, and contentious politics can be mutually imbricated. Either when it malfunctions or when it thrives, clientelism may lie at the root of collective action.