Anti-corruption protests and contention in Odebrecht-ridden Brazil – a mere series of isolated protest events, or the work of contentious anti-corruption communities? Investigating the role and extent of ‘networked’ institutional players in sustaining the protest cycle and championing favourable anti-corruption outcomes
Arguing that the waves of protests in Brazil in the wake of the Odebrecht corruption scandal have been infused by a loosely coordinated network of social movements organisations (SMOs), political activists, the media and institutional insiders, I seek to map claims-making (including processes and acts of performing, articulating and framing claims) across a multi-organisational field (public and political arenas). In contrast to the social movement literature which assigns key mobilising attributes to mostly extra-institutional social movement actors and organisations, I postulate that, in the Brazilian case, it is in fact an empowered group of anti-corruption champions from the judiciary comprised of institutional insiders, activists and entrepreneurs who spearhead said activism by means of strategic framing (prognostic/diagnostic/motivational framing) on the one side, and tactical claims-making (discursive, i.e. collective frames; physical, i.e. assertive collection action forms) on the other. The empirical open questions to be answered are the following: Firstly, by so doing, have said institutional players been able to sustain and prolong the protest cycle on the one hand, thereby often eliciting crucial institutional responses favourable for anti-corruption (e.g. prevent relapse by blocking counter-mobilisation to revert or annul key legislations)? And secondly, have they been able to champion the anti-cause and advance the anti-corruption agenda by fuelling anti-corruption contention with assertive collective action tactics, and by so doing, increased policy responsiveness beyond the agenda-setting phase.