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Activating Democracy in Brazil

Activating Democracy in Brazil

Popular Participation, Social Justice, and Interlocking Institutions

Brian Wampler

In 1988, Brazil’s Constitution marked the formal establishment of a new democratic regime. In the ensuing two and a half decades, Brazilian citizens, civil society organizations, and public officials have undertaken the slow, arduous task of building new institutions to ensure that Brazilian citizens have access to rights that improve their quality of life, expand their voice and vote, change the distribution of public goods, and deepen the quality of democracy. Civil society activists and ordinary citizens now participate in a multitude of state-sanctioned institutions, including public policy management councils, public policy conferences, participatory budgeting programs, and legislative hearings. Activating Democracy in Brazil examines how the proliferation of democratic institutions in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, has transformed the way in which citizens, CSOs, and political parties work together to change the existing state.

According to Wampler, the 1988 Constitution marks the formal start of the participatory citizenship regime, but there has been tremendous variation in how citizens and public officials have carried it out. This book demonstrates that the variation results from the interplay of five factors: state formation, the development of civil society, government support for citizens’ use of their voice and vote, the degree of public resources available for spending on services and public goods, and the rules that regulate forms of participation, representation, and deliberation within participatory venues. By focusing on multiple democratic institutions over a twenty-year period, this book illustrates how the participatory citizenship regime generates political and social change.

“Activating Democracy in Brazil is an original work. Brian Wampler uses a longitudinal qualitative study of the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil—with which the author has maintained contact directly and indirectly for a long period—to address a number of contemporary challenges in the participation debate. It brings together interviews, observations, survey data, and social indicators to tell a complex story from a variety of different directions." — Peter Spink, São Paulo School of Business Administration, Getulio Vargas Foundation

ISBN: 978-0-268-04430-5
E-ISBN 978-0-268-09673-1
312 pages
Publication Year: 2015

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Brian Wampler is professor of political science at Boise State University. He is the author of Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation, and Accountability.

“This crucial book by Wampler sets [Brazil’s practices of participatory democracy] in a necessary broader context not just for Brazil, but for new democracies generally. Wampler’s detailed and clear analysis is based on extensive field research including many interviews with key actors and original survey data.” — Choice

“As inspiring books normally do, Activating Democracy in Brazil offers new insights and raises new questions. It also offers directions on how to reinforce democracy through participation. Its framework should pave the way for cross-regional and country comparisons.” — Latin American Politics and Society

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Participatory Democracy in Brazil

Socioeconomic and Political Origins

J. Ricardo Tranjan

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Religious Responses to Violence

Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present


Edited by Alexander Wilde

Activating Democracy in Brazil

Popular Participation, Social Justice, and Interlocking Institutions

Brian Wampler

 Activating Democracy in Brazil: Popular Participation, Social Justice, and Interlocking Institutions
Paper Edition

In 1988, Brazil’s Constitution marked the formal establishment of a new democratic regime. In the ensuing two and a half decades, Brazilian citizens, civil society organizations, and public officials have undertaken the slow, arduous task of building new institutions to ensure that Brazilian citizens have access to rights that improve their quality of life, expand their voice and vote, change the distribution of public goods, and deepen the quality of democracy. Civil society activists and ordinary citizens now participate in a multitude of state-sanctioned institutions, including public policy management councils, public policy conferences, participatory budgeting programs, and legislative hearings. Activating Democracy in Brazil examines how the proliferation of democratic institutions in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, has transformed the way in which citizens, CSOs, and political parties work together to change the existing state.

According to Wampler, the 1988 Constitution marks the formal start of the participatory citizenship regime, but there has been tremendous variation in how citizens and public officials have carried it out. This book demonstrates that the variation results from the interplay of five factors: state formation, the development of civil society, government support for citizens’ use of their voice and vote, the degree of public resources available for spending on services and public goods, and the rules that regulate forms of participation, representation, and deliberation within participatory venues. By focusing on multiple democratic institutions over a twenty-year period, this book illustrates how the participatory citizenship regime generates political and social change.

“Activating Democracy in Brazil is an original work. Brian Wampler uses a longitudinal qualitative study of the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil—with which the author has maintained contact directly and indirectly for a long period—to address a number of contemporary challenges in the participation debate. It brings together interviews, observations, survey data, and social indicators to tell a complex story from a variety of different directions." — Peter Spink, São Paulo School of Business Administration, Getulio Vargas Foundation

ISBN: 978-0-268-04430-5

312 pages

“This crucial book by Wampler sets [Brazil’s practices of participatory democracy] in a necessary broader context not just for Brazil, but for new democracies generally. Wampler’s detailed and clear analysis is based on extensive field research including many interviews with key actors and original survey data.” — Choice

“As inspiring books normally do, Activating Democracy in Brazil offers new insights and raises new questions. It also offers directions on how to reinforce democracy through participation. Its framework should pave the way for cross-regional and country comparisons.” — Latin American Politics and Society

Kellogg Institute Series on Democracy and Development