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Legitimacy Contests and Neoliberal Reforms in Mexico’s Energy Sector

Professor Willie Ocasio, Northwestern University, onWednesday, 21.3.18at 1100-1230, room 4128

Title: Legitimacy Contests and Neoliberal Reforms in Mexico's Energy Sector: An Institutional Logics Perspective (with Daniel Milner)

Abstract: We analyze recent reforms to Mexico's energy sector to theorize how institutional logics shape neoliberal reforms. Our mixed-methods analysis of the 2012-13 reforms to Mexico's petroleum industry includes .a narrative analysis of reform effort and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) of 724 speech acts gathered from 966 articles from three Mexican newspapers over a 4.5-year period We broadly find (1) three institutional logics, i.e., of the state, market, and reforms; (2) that each logic is composed of three primary dimensions, i.e., basis of strategy, sources of legitimacy, and sources of authority; (3) that logic-dimensions are composed of two types of elements, i.e., (symbolic) frames and (material) practices; (4) that these logic-dimension-elements are skillfully used by three sets of actors, i.e., reformers, opponents, and neutral parties, (5) over four time-periods reveal several mechanisms in an iterative process of implementing the neoliberal reforms. More specifically, we find that reformers' skilled use of different logic-dimension-elements, and particularly legitimacy-frames, enabled them to guide the direction of public discourse, while opponents' rebuttal with unchanging legitimacy-frames diminished their efficacy. We contribute theoretically to the institutional logics perspective by explicating the relationship between constellations of logics, embedded agents, and contestation through language and public discourse; and methodologically with a unique application of HCA.