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Digital de-democratization: the spread of authoritarianism through social media in Brazil

Grant number: 21/07296-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2021
Effective date (End): June 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Marcos César Alvarez
Grantee:Natasha Bachini Pereira
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:13/07923-7 - Center of the Study of Violence - NEV/USP, AP.CEPID
Associated scholarship(s):23/13694-2 - Digitally implanted authoritarianism? The revival of "conservative" discourses in Portuguese-speaking countries in the 21st century, BE.EP.PD


The broad political appropriation of social media over the last decade has shown that they are mighty in mobilizing people. However, research indicates that these platforms have been used more for populist practices and discursive violence than to increase the counterposition of arguments and pluralize the political experience. As a result, we see deepening public democracy and authoritarian involutions everywhere. The social gaps left by neoliberal globalization associated with the incompleteness of the democratic process have particularly favored the reproduction of this phenomenon in Brazil, demarcated by the election of Bolsonaro in 2018. Aiming to observe the sustenance of conservative actors in the country and their strategies to weaken our democracy, this research project proposes to analyze the framings given to political institutions, human rights violations and state violence in the posts of the leading public pages related to politics on Facebook throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and to observe how these framings feed authoritarian narratives in contemporary Brazilian politics. Seeking to understand the reception of these contents and to what extent they influence the political opinion and worldview of those who receive them, we will count the engagements generated by these posts and will also interview some followers of these pages. We hope with this study to contribute to the understanding of the relations between social media and public opinion and, particularly, how they foster the new conservative wave, Bolsonarism and the socially implanted authoritarianism in our country. (AU)

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