A Letter on the Brazilian Protests

People protesting in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The sign reads "Se a passagem não baixar, o Rio vai parar!", which is translated to "If the ticket (price) doesn't drop, Rio is going to stop!" © Tânia Rêgo | Agência Brasil

Last summer in The New School’s Democracy and Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, I taught a course on the new “new social movements,” comparing the social movements of 2011-2 with those of 1968 and 1989. The working thesis: “While traditional social movements were primarily about resources and interest, and “the new social movements” of the late 20th century were more centered on questions of identity, as Touraine and Melucci investigated, the social movements of our most recent past and of the present day are primarily about addressing perceived injustices through the constitution of autonomous publics.” This year I am teaching a variation on last year’s theme. Focusing on how the new social movements and the publics they create interact with existing political institutions and parties. “The center of our investigation will be a sociology of publics as they mediate between institutional politics and social movements. We will work on developing a framework for exploring the way movements create new publics, and affect the operations of political parties and the direction of state policy.” Recent events in Brazil, Turkey and Iran (and elsewhere) illuminate the problems I hope we will investigate next month. Today, the first of a series of reports on these developments: a letter to last year’s seminar participants from Fernanda Canofre dos Santos on unfolding protests in Brazil. Coming up a report on Turkey and Iran. -Jeff

It’s been a while and I hope everyone is doing great. Well, I’m back to Brazil, and after everything that is happening here this week (I don’t know if you’ve . . .

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