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Social Movements and Institutional Change: The Pro-Indigenous Struggle for Land Tenure and Citizenship in Brazil (1968-2016)


Alfinito Vieira,  Ana Carolina
International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Alfinito Vieira, A. C. (2016). Social Movements and Institutional Change: The Pro-Indigenous Struggle for Land Tenure and Citizenship in Brazil (1968-2016). PhD Thesis, University of Cologne, Cologne. doi:10.17617/2.2385250.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-4CFC-E
Based on a analysis of a multi-level and inter-sectoral trajectory of pro-indigenous mobilization in Brazil, the present study sets out to examine how social movements contribute to gradual and long-term processes of institutional change. To do so, it draws on social movement theory, pragmatist institutional theory and cultural sociology and develops a dynamic model of mobilization and institutional change that foregrounds the organization of society within multiple and partially overlapping institutional sectors and emphasizes the dynamic and recursive interactions between movements and ever-shifting institutional contexts of action. This model is deployed in the analysis of a long-term trajectory of mobilization over indigenous land tenure and citizenship rights in Brazil from 1968 until 2016. The trajectory is composed of seven episodes, each of which is characterized by a constellation of repertoires, sites and targets of contention. I analyze the institutional, organizational and cultural outcomes of these episodes, examining how they add up to landmark moments in which institutional contexts of mobilization change significantly and mark a transition between periods of contention. By examining and comparing across these episodes, I identify two social mechanisms, here understood as recurrent social processes linking initial conditions to outcomes, which were central for the movement's ability to influence incremental and cumulative instances of institutional change: (a) the formation of inter-sectoral networks of contention and (b) institutional framing. I use the term inter-sectoral network formation to refer to processes through which ties of cooperation and mobilization are constructed and activated by actors situated across institutional sectors in the midst of contention. By incorporating different institutional repertoires into the movement and opening up multiple channels of claim-making, this mechanism increases the responsive capacity and the resilience of movements vis-à-vis shifting contexts of action. By institutional framing, I refer to the collective and public processes through which activists attribute and dispute the meaning of society-wide institutional elements that are relevant for their goals. By framing institutions, many of which ensue from previous episodes of contention, movements contribute to institutional innovation and produce a sense of continuity between different episodes, periods and sectors of mobilization.