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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


WILLIAM P. NORRIS, Associate Professor of Sociology, Oberlin College

SOCIAL RESEARCH ON BRAZIL in the mid-1980s reflected the country's deepening crises, the growing national research agenda, and international scholarly issues. Thus, political parties and organizations and violence and crime became more important issues, as did the study of women, regions, history (of labor particularly), rural structure, and life and popular culture. New interpretations of race and sexuality were offered. During the same period there was a resurgence of interest in migration, urban structure, poverty and the political economy of development. On the other hand, fewer studies of social movements and the Church appeared during the period. The national research network expanded, led by the Associação Nacional de Pos-Graduação e Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais (ANPOCS). The economic crisis had a direct impact on scholarship, undermining the ability of scholars to engage in large-scale research, create new databases, and perhaps do research at all. Theoretical work became increasingly eclectic. Important conferences were held; for instance, the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development held an international conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1988 on "Trends and Challenges of Urban Restructuring." Organized by the Instituto Universitário de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ), the conference included many significant papers on the Brazilian urbanization and development process.

The changing political situation was discussed in many books and articles. Cardoso (item bi 91002936) offered a comparative analysis of the new forms of democracy emerging to replace bureaucratic authoritarian regimes. Continuities in bourgeois ideology were emphasized in an article by Diniz (item bi 88001239). Violence and crime, linked by many to the economic crisis, were scrutinized by Zaluar in a probing ethnographic study of young men in a Rio de Janeiro conjunto who became bandidos (item bi 91003550).

Many scholars utilized a historical structural analysis to examine a variety of social phenomena. Kowarick (item bi 91003276) studied the creation of a capitalist labor market in São Paulo. Analyses of day-to-day situations, of growing importance, are represented below by Blay's study of the life of the Paulista working class (item bi 91003262). Homosexuality in Brazil was the subject of a path-breaking yet somewhat uneven work by Trevisan (item bi 89006306). Immigration, rural and urban life and structure, and ethnicity are the subjects of Handa's comprehensive work on Japanese-Brazilians (item bi 89000338). The growing number of excellent regional studies was exemplified by Andrade's work on Pernambuco social classes and agrarian structure (item bi 91003259).

Studies of social change continue to be a major contribution of Brazilians and Brazilianists to international social research. Wood and Carvalho (item bi 89000337) presented a sophisticated study of population, development and inequality. Another international collaborative team, Mainwaring and Viola (item bi 91003478) compared new social movements in Brazil and Argentina. Jaguaribe et al. (item bi 90004600) compared Brazil to other recently developed countries and found Brazil lagging far behind in social development. Their suggested goals for improvements appear to have been overtaken by the crises. One of several collections of the writings of major theoreticians was the compilation of Fernandes' writings (item bi 91003271) which emphasized his important work on race, education and the bourgeois revolution. The study of culture in its many forms expanded rapidly and included ethnographic research on communities and religious groups, and research on popular culture and the media. A good collection focusing on television as a culture industry was organized by Marcondes Filho (item bi 91003279). A provocative piece by Rocha (item bi 89006312) linked advertising to Brazilian "savage" capitalism.

The Freyrean theory that Brazil is a racial democracy continued to spark revisionist studies such as the insightful quantitative analysis by Hasenbalg (item bi 91003469) who concluded that racial inequality existed on a number of social dimensions. Gender, as another aspect of inequality, also was studied more extensively. Hahner (item bi 91003467) provided a comprehensive overview of recent research on women. Most of these studies demonstrate new interrelationships among social phenomena, the current conjuncture, and historical structural processes. Other interrelationships require elucidation, such as social movements and political organizations, and gender and sexuality. Linkages such as these will provide the focus of much future research.

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