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Citizenship and Democracy: thinking through a disrupted political realm


This research proposal aims to examine the crisis of State public patterns of social regulation in contemporary Brazil brought by the introduction of a "freedom maximizing" market economy in a context marked by historically rooted social and political inequalities. At the same time, it addresses current conflicting views on the nature of events and actions that aim to answer that crisis through the constitution of political and civil public spaces which might have democratic virtues in contradistinction to the rapid destabilization of social rights and political inclusion. It is, then, an inquiry on the current transformations of the place and conditions of citizenship opened as a possibility in the last two decades of the country. The research proposal is informed by the notion of "rights of citizenship", anotion built through the collective debate of individual work of researchers that compose the team of the Center of Studies for the Rights of Citizenship (CeNedic)in the last three years. This notion defines citizenship as a changing field of tensions and conflicts for rights and political participation, implying that the dispute for the meanings of democracy in the country involves questioning the limits and boundaries for the invention and expansion of rights. It also implies a theoretical thinking about the slipping boundaries of the public and the private realms, a process that deprive people of their material support (be it symbolic or physical) to exercise citizens' rights and public commitments. Both definitions point to an effort to clarify the process of change of the "social contract", that is, of relations between State and society. It also points to an understanding of the highly undecided processes of disappearance of a public regulatory power in favor of market rules as much as the disappearance of collective subjective demands on the process of public decisions. We argue that the government politics of dismantling social righs and the unprecedent promotion of privatized forms of life and figures in Brazilian society can be understood through the examination of three factors: the dismantling of a working political-juridical order, the displacement of civil society empowerment and the disrupting effects caused by the association of global capital with new technologies on local and historical references of social bonds. At the same time, we think that it is possible to find, in the midst of this real (or imagined)catastrophe, newfound possibilities and spaces of breaking these developments through a renewed notion of public and political life. (AU)

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