chapter  14
12 Pages

Social class and politics in Brazil: From Cardoso to Lula

ByARMANDO BOITO

This chapter examines recent political developments in Brazil and the neoliberal model at the root of these processes. It departs from most texts on this subject by focusing on the role of class interests and politics under neoliberalism. Unsurprisingly, the dominant theoretical currents generally overlook social class when analysing contemporary Brazilian politics, presenting the national political process as a dispute between political parties, fickle waves of opinion and political personalities (Sallum Jr. 2008). Those scholars who consider social classes do so in terms of a binary opposition between the bourgeoisie and the working class, each conceived of as a monolithic bloc (Arcary 2008). However, in order to have a realistic and suitably complex picture of national politics it is insufficient to consider these elementary class labels. It is also essential to examine the class segments and layers that subdivide these basic classes, and the intermediary classes within Brazilian society so that we can finally map the interests, ideol­ ogies, convergences and conflicts emerging out of this complexity to the current political process, its main actors and key events.