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Title: A profile of contemporary political discourse in Brazil : the rhetoric of intransigence in the 1987-88 Constituent experience
Author: Costa, Tarícisio de Lima Ferreira Fernandes
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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My Ph.D thesis draws a profile of contemporary political discourse in Brazil from the debates of the 1987-88 National Constituent Assembly. I chose these debates as the primary source for my research for two reasons. Firstly, the latest Brazilian Constituent Assembly is widely recognized as the most participatory political forum ever held in the country. Most organized segments of Brazilian society made their voices heard during the constituent process, whether through initiatives of their own or by resorting to the mechanisms put in place by the Assembly of "public hearings" and "popular amendments". The records of the Assembly and the prolific literature produced at the time on constitutional issues, which testify to the interest aroused by the constituent experience nationwide, serve as the main reference for the discourse analysis developed in this thesis. Secondly and most importantly, the Constituent Assembly was conveyed at a time when, for many influential political theorists, such as Francisco Weffort, Brazilian political actors were in the process of changing their attitude toward democracy. Until then, this opinion holds, democracy had been seen by Brazilians as something external, a goal to be reached only sometime in the future. Hitherto, the challenge had been to understand what had made democracy a "misplaced idea" on the domestic scene. For many, this understanding stood as the prior condition for any serious attempt to install a functioning and sustainable democratic experiment in the country. By the late eighties, a new mindset was filtering in. For various reasons, among them the traumatic memories left by the repressive cycle in the 1970's on both sides of the ideological spectrum, political agents were becoming more and more interested in the practising of the language of democracy. Rather than a mere object of research, democracy was on its way to becoming the prevailing code, a method in widespread use, Weffort and others sustained. My basic concern in this thesis is therefore to ascertain the grounding for such a reading, or, in other words, to verify how democracy-friendly was the rhetoric of Brazilian political agents in the late eighties. Of particular relevance to this endeavour is Albert Hirschman's The Rhetoric of Reaction, with its survey of conservative and, to a lesser degree, of progressive discourses on the question of citizenship over the last two centuries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available