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Insurgent, Participatory Citizens: (Re)Making Politics in Northeastern Brazil
AuthorYutzy, Christopher B.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 27-Apr-2019
AbstractThis dissertation combines ethnography and history to study the co-evolution of participatory governance and clientelism in a context of urban poverty and re-democratization in the city of Fortaleza, capital of the Northeastern state of Ceará, Brazil. Government sponsored participatory governance mechanisms have been employed in Brazil since the 1980s to re-incorporate civil society into such processes of government as budgeting and city planning. With an emphasis on citizen participation, participatory governance represents a new form of mediation between the state and society, one that provides an alternative to traditional forms of state-society relationships such as clientelism, a mainstay of Brazilian politics. Despite a large body of research on Brazil’s participatory programs, little attention has been paid to the use of participatory social policy by the military regime (1964-1985) and the impacts of participation’s authoritarian origins on contemporary state-society relations. Three inter-related questions guide the analysis. First, how has participatory governance, originally employed in Fortaleza by the military government, shaped how the urban poor organize and exercise their political citizenship today? Second, how has clientelism adapted to participatory institutions? Do participatory mechanisms aid the urban poor in overcoming existing societal and political power structures? Finally, how have grassroots (non-state sponsored) participatory organizations shaped local conceptions of politics and civic engagement? The main contribution of this dissertation is to bring anthropological discussions on participatory governance in Brazil to bear on discussions surrounding political clientelism and political participation, in a context of democratization in poor urban communities. The analysis, developed in three appended articles, is based on data from twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Fortaleza involving participant observation, in-depth interviews, and a review of archival data from city participatory planning offices and local universities. The data provides evidence that the institutionalization of civil society’s engagement with the state led to new expressions of and limitations to citizenship among Fortaleza’s urban poor. I argue that the authoritarian origins of participatory social policy in Fortaleza led to the fragmentation of strong civic mobilization in the 1980s and consolidated new forms of urban clientelism. Contemporary participatory governance programs have diversified urban political networks, which lessons the power of traditional clientelist patrons, but some patrons have adapted by institutionalizing methods of exchange within participatory programs and local organizations. Recent informal participatory mechanisms have emerged to assert localized or alternate governmentalities. These grassroots forms respond to the paradoxical and contested nature of participation in participatory programs in Fortaleza’s peripheries; that they often fail to achieve long-term solutions to local issues through sustained civic mobilization.
Degree ProgramGraduate College