chapter
14 Pages

Introduction

WithDavid Arellano-Gault

This introduction points out that corruption is a socially dense phenomenon, based on social relations that make it a complex object to study and understand. Corruption, beyond a simple vision that defines it as a discrete act of unethical individuals, needs to be studied and understood also as a social act that is usually hidden from the eyes of others; in which some actors can be committed to cover it up, justify it, and rationalize it. It is a social act that can be systematic and even organized. Corruption is now a concept that attracts international attention. There is also a whole group of persons and organizations dedicated to proposing to countries and organizations how to deal with such a problem. There is an “anticorruption industry”, dedicated to producing a dominant vision of corruption and the instruments to tackle it, with very questionable results. Understanding corruption as a social phenomenon allows an understanding to be reached of the intricate battle several countries have launched in order to reduce the negative impacts of the social practices that allow corruption to be systematic. This introduction, then, also exposes how systemic corruption is faced with innovative mechanisms in some Latin American countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Guatemala. In these countries we can find important institutional experiments like specialized agencies and decentralized complex networks of agencies in detailed coordination schemes which have the hope of controlling the high level of corruption that these countries suffer, both in the public and private sector. It is explained that the second section of the book deals with the analysis of these cases and their anticorruption efforts: their promises and hopes.