The conflict of middle classes in the Brazilian youth-led protests

Text originally published in Finnish in August, 2013 at the Nuorisotutkimus lehti (3/2013). 

Last June citizens formed the biggest mass demonstrations of Brazil since the end of dictatorship in 1985. Who were the protesters? The consensus between Brazilian and foreign analysts points to the middle class youth. This explanation is problematic. Indeed it is true that most on the streets were young people who had never protested on the streets before. They were mobilized on social networks online to get off the chair and go to the streets with the hope of changing a highly corrupt and unfair country. But the emphasis on middle class is too simplistic.

I contend that characterizing the Brazilian protests solely as the reaction of an apparently homogenous middle class youth gives a wrong sense of unity to a very diverse and conflicting movement. This is the impression I got during my research fieldwork in Rio. I had the chance of looking at the birth, growth and fragmentation of the demonstrations by observing the participation of young activists from favelas (Brazilian kinds of slums) on the protests.

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In my hometown Magé, fear is the spirit of the World Cup

Em português aqui.

The spirit of the World Cup hit me two days ago in messages and phone calls while I was on a bus trip back to my parents’ place. Friends and relatives desperately asked about my whereabouts. Then they told me to watch out: things were wild in Magé (my hometown) with deadly armed conflicts. Have you ever heard about the “pacification” process to increase security in Rio before the World Cup and Olympics? Well, the “pacification” in the city of Rio has increasingly meant the end of peace for us in Magé.

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The challenge of mobilizing workers and the poor continues

Last year, I wrote that it is a challenge to mobilize low-income workers and the poor in Brazil.

A week ago (May 15), Brazil saw some protests against the World Cup (you can read about it in The Guardian and BBC, for example).

I went to the one in Rio. The impression I had is that the challenge to mobilize more workers remains. And it is a difficult one.

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An “Ethnographic Walk” around Army-Controlled Maré

I spent most of last Saturday in Maré. Maré is a region formed by sixteen favelas in the North Zone (low-income working-class region) of Rio. Since March Maré has been occupied by the army. I mentioned to a local friend that I would like to see the favela with the presence of the army. I have wondered how it has affected the everyday life of the place. So she took me around for what she called an “ethnographic walk”. These are some perceptions I had during and after it.

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