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April 2023 Vol. 60 No. 8

University of Michigan Press

The following review appeared in the April 2023 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
Political Science - Comparative Politics

Palmer-Rubin, Brian. Evading the patronage trap: interest representation in Mexico. Michigan, 2022. 342p bibl index ISBN 9780472075447, $90.00; ISBN 9780472055449 pbk, $45.00; ISBN 9780472902873 ebook, open access.

Palmer-Rubin (Marquette Univ.) explains representational inequality in Mexico through an analysis of the subnational organizations that represent small-business owners, small-scale farmers, and political parties. He convincingly argues that the mode in which an organization generates internal/external organizational capacity is an important determinant of the types of policy demands that it levies on the state. He asserts that class matters in representation. Patronage-based models of representation are more prevalent among the poor and are the root cause of biased pluralism and structural inequalities. Palmer-Rubin conducted more than 100 interviews with organizational leaders and bureaucrats and used datasets from chambers of commerce, industries, and the government. He masterfully combines quantitative data and qualitative observations to evaluate an organization's degree of programmatic and patronage representation. The volume concludes with recommendations for how organizations and parties can avoid the "patronage trap": a vicious cycle yielding state benefits but precluding programmatic representation. This work is a major contribution to the study of inequality in Mexican and Latin American politics.

--I. Coronado, Arizona State University

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty and professionals.