Participatory Democracy in Brazil
Socioeconomic and Political Origins
Kellogg Institute Series on Democracy and Development
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
288 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 15.00 mm, 3 tables and 1 line drawing
- ISBN: 9780268042400
- Published: December 2015
The largely successful trajectory of participatory democracy in post-1988 Brazil is well documented, but much less is known about its origins in the 1970s and early 1980s. In Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Socioeconomic and Political Origins, J. Ricardo Tranjan recounts the creation of participatory democracy in Brazil. He positions the well-known Porto Alegre participatory budgeting at the end of three interrelated and partially overlapping processes: a series of incremental steps toward broader political participation taking place throughout the twentieth century; short-lived and only partially successful attempts to promote citizen participation in municipal administration in the 1970s; and setbacks restricting direct citizen participation in the 1980s. What emerges is a clearly delineated history of how socioeconomic contexts shaped Brazil’s first participatory administrations.
Tranjan first examines Brazil’s long history of institutional exclusion of certain segments of the population and controlled inclusion of others, actions that fueled nationwide movements calling for direct citizen participation in the 1960s. He then presents three case studies of municipal administrations in the late 1970s and early 1980s that foreground the impact of socioeconomic factors in the emergence, design, and outcome of participatory initiatives. The contrast of these precursory experiences with the internationally known 1990s participatory models shows how participatory ideals and practices responded to the changing institutional context of the 1980s. The final part of his analysis places developments in participatory discourses and practices in the 1980s within the context of national-level political-institutional changes; in doing so, he helps bridge the gap between the local-level participatory democracy and democratization literatures.
"This pathbreaking study of participatory democracy in Brazil fundamentally challenges the conventional wisdom in a number of ways. Rather than assume that Brazil’s experiments in participatory democracy are urban phenomena that started in the late 1980s as a consequence of its democratic transition, J. Ricardo Tranjan persuasively demonstrates how participatory democracy’s roots date back to rural and urban experiments in participation under military rule. The result is a nuanced understanding of how changes in socioeconomic context and national politics and institutions not only condition local political participation in important ways, but affect the very meaning of political participation. It is a must read for anyone interested in the politics of participation in Latin America." —Philip Oxhorn, McGill University
"In Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Socioeconomic and Political Origins, J. Ricardo Tranjan makes an important contribution to broader theoretical debates on political development. Rather than focusing on the now famous participatory budgeting program in Porto Alegre, he extends his analysis to better situate the emphasis on participatory democracy in a larger historical context. His corrective history will be of interest to scholars of participatory democracy, contemporary Brazilian social and political history, and democratic studies." —Brian Wampler, Boise State University
"J. Ricardo Tranjan argues for the need to contextualize participatory ideals and practices, and maintains that the much-celebrated cases of the 1990s and 2000s are rooted in less-known cases of the 1970s and 1980s (are, in fact, 'moderations' of those). The formula Tranjan uses for analyzing this context—economic structure and macro-institutional setting—is well-described. The book can be used in courses focusing on 'governance' practices in the developing world or on Brazilian contemporary politics/history." —William Nylen, Stetson University