Discourses of Anti-corruption in Mexico. Culture of Corruption or Corruption of Culture?

Gabriela Coronado


In the context of global capitalism the so-called developing countries are considered ‘commodities’ in offer in the global economy as emerging markets or for foreign investment. Countries need to show they are potentially highly competitive with low risk. The value of country characteristics is set by globalised managerial discourses, based on postcolonial ideologies that rate cultures and societies in terms of linear notions of progress and civilisation. Cultures and behaviours are judged positively or negatively according to the position countries supposedly have in the evolution of world society. In this framework one element that countries need to eradicate or reduce in order to be seen as ‘attractive’ is corruption. Towards this aim international and national government and non-government organisations have put in place anti-corruption campaigns. In communications with the general public, these schemes represent actors and acts of corruption through discursive strategies that characterize world cultures and their links with corruption in terms of postcolonial ideologies. In this paper I focus on the implications of the metaphor ‘culture of corruption’ for rating countries, questioning its effectiveness in anti-corruption campaigns. I argue that anti-corruption instruments based on postcolonial ideologies corrupt representations of national cultures and peoples behaviours, instead of targeting local and global sectors that gain from institutionalised corruption. Through the analysis of anti-corruption cultural texts publicly available in Mexico I illustrate how the ideological misrepresentation of corruption fails its stated aim, to transform a ‘culture of corruption’ into a ‘culture of legality’.


discourse; postcolonial ideology; culture; corruption; transparency; Mexico.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/portal.v5i1.479