Conclusion: Structural adjustment, structural violence

James B. Greenberg, Thomas Weaver, Anne Browning-Aiken, William L. Alexander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


An old Vaudeville one-liner runs "the operation was a success but the patient died." That sentiment would seem to apply to neoliberalism generally and certainly in Mexico. The history of neoliberalism in Mexico has been one of repeated application of "neoliberal medicine" as a cure for the crises du jour, followed by shock and upheavals that neoliberals call structural adjustment but which might more aptly be termed structural violence-"the violence of poverty, hunger, social exclusion, and humiliation" (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois 2004:1) that results from the way risk is structured by political and economic forces (Farmer 2002, 2004). Even by their own acknowledged standards, neoliberal policies in Mexico can hardly be called a "success." In the dozen years prior to the 1982 crisis, Mexican gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6 percent. Under neoliberal structural adjustment since 1982, GDP growth has averaged only 2.3 percent (World Bank 2008). One doesn't need statistics, however, to see the signs of a failed economy. These signs make headlines daily. We read about drug cartels and corruption, about rising homicide rates, beheadings-and then there are the 11 million Mexicans in economic exile. But these are only the most visible signs. Neoliberal transformations and structural violence, as our case studies show, have affected nearly every aspect of the Mexican economy. These transformations go far beyond institutions, governance, and trade. We argue that neoliberalism has reconfigured Mexican space: it has redefined how goods are produced, how commodities flow, how labor is allocated, and how households make decisions. In short, it has changed nearly everything.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeoliberalism and Commodity Production in Mexico
PublisherUniversity Press of Colorado
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9781607321712
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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