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Revista de Sociologia e Política

On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


DE ROZAS, Victoria Ortiz. Personal, Particular and Political: The Production of the Public Good in Daily Political. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2017, vol.25, n.63, pp.53-77. ISSN 1678-9873.

The purpose of the article is to study, through the activity of those in office, the actual practices in the production of the “common good”, understood as the distribution of public goods to the citizens. The interest arises from the tension between politicians ideal behavior -according to universal and publicly orientated rules - and an actual practice that supposes taking into account the interests of individual citizens and certain social groups, as well as the own political interests. The relation between impersonality and public interest is questioned, arguing that personalized distribution of public goods does not suppose necessarily its private appropriation. The article presents an empirical study of the daily activity of politicians with different positions in elective office, all of them belonging to the governing party, in the province of Santiago del Estero, where the political regime has been recognized by the importance of personal relations and bureaucracy politicization. Following a qualitative methodological strategy - that includes the techniques of in-depth interviews and non-participant observation-; the article presents empirical evidence on politicians daily activity and their notions about their practices; paying attention to their connections with the citizens and with other politicians and civil servants. The article shows that the activities of provincial politicians involve personalized contact with the citizens, as well as with civil servants of different levels of the public administration; which allow them facilitate the distribution of public goods to their electoral base; activities which are mainly informal. Although their actions benefit individual citizens and certain territorial groups -far from of the abstract notion of citizenship-, this does not exclude common good promotion. The leaders can also obtain a personal political benefit, different from their “private” interest, since it necessarily supposes favouring other citizens or groups of citizens. The article puts in question the canonical relation between impersonality and public interest –present in academic literature-, specifying the distinction between personal political links and privatization; even suggesting a complementary relation among particularistic practices and the universality expected from political representatives.

Keywords : daily political activity; political representation; informal institutions; State; common good.

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