In this work Susan Socolow examines bureaucrats in early modern society by concentrating on those of Buenos Aires under the Bourbon reforms in the late colonial bureaucracy, Socolow studies the individuals who held positions in the colonial civil service—their recruitment, aspirations, job tenure, professional advancement, and economic position.
The late eighteenth century was a critical time for the southernmost regions of Latin America, for in this period they became a separate political entity, the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. Socolow's work, part of a continuing study of the political, economic, and social elites of the emerging city of Buenos Aires, here considers the bureaucracy put into place by the Bourbon reforms. The author examines the professional and personal circumstances of all bureaucrats, from the high-ranking heads of agencies to the more lowly clerks, contrasting their expectations and their actual experiences. She pays particular attention to their recruitment, promotion, salary, and retirement, as well as their marriage and kinship relationships in the local society.