International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

8B: The Impact of Democratization Processes on Political Participation: Challenges and Dilemmas

(Session Organizer) Cornelis Johannes van Stralen, Brazilian Association of Political Psychology/ Federal University of Minas GErais

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Brazilian Association of Political Psychology/ Federal University of Minas GErais
Research Area: Civic engagement and civic development

Brazil, just like several other countries of Latin America, is marked by substantial political and societal changes. It has created mechanism of civil society participation, incorporating forms of popular participation into the formal structure of the state. Local, state and federal deliberative councils, made up by civil society and government representatives are the core of institutionalized participation.  These new arrangements have decisions-making authority on resources earmarked for public services.  Their working is based on a political discourse that focuses on citizenship rights and the need of control of government action. Besides these institutionalized forms of participation emerged a lot of non-governmental organizations that are fighting for the rights of diverse minorities. The widespread enthusiasm for civil society participation and  citizenship rights  and the revitalization of democratic discourses is somewhat at odds  with  the complexities of the new reality. Besides new networks of activists and organizations, traditional movements declined as the constituency abandons them or their leadership  took up government responsibilities and  despite of strong commitment to democratic values predominates disaffection with politics,  particularly among youth, fostered by continuing particularistic and undemocratic practices of clientelism, patronage and corruption. To understand the Brazilian democracy, it is necessary to adress the dynamic articulation between commitment to democratic values and citizenship rights, disaffection with politics and the persistence of “old politics”.