1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Collective Action, Gender Dynamics and the Constraints for Upscaling Women Initiatives in Rural Mexico: The Case of “El Color de la Tierra”, an Indigenous Women’s Network-Based Initiative in Western Mexico (Draft)


This paper undertakes an analysis of the tension indigenous rural women face as a result of participating in collective action, and the rewards they gain from it. Through the reconstruction of an indigenous women–based collective action approach operating in an indigenous community in western Mexico, the qualitative study discusses the potential and limits of SSE to expand and generate greater impact. The paper argues that the expansion potential of a collective action primarily depends on its own members and on the external actors. The paper concludes that as long as the rewards obtained through the organization are perceived as worthy enough to cope with the tensions it involves, their members will act as key factors for the survival and expansion of the collective action. External actors might both limit (by acting dishonest) or encourage (by generating rewards) the organization’s expansion potential.

Carolina Contreras Arias is a PhD student in the Organization Studies and Cultural Theory programme at the University of St. Gallen (HSG). In her research she focuses on sustainable development, gender dynamics and organic food production in rural Mexico. She holds an MSc in agricultural economics from the University of Hohenheim,

Corinne A. Pernet is a historian who joined the University of St. Gallen (HSG) in January 2010, working in the research unit on Interculturality at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Currently, her main research project on the trans-areal politics of food examines interactions between Latin American experts and international organizations engaged in food policy.

Stephan Rist is Lecturer in Human Geography and heads the Governance of Land and Natural Resources Cluster at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Berne. He is also Co-leader of Research Project 13 of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South on the transformation of agrarian systems.