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Emergent Brazilians comment the impeachment of the president

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 18:01:28 +0000

One of the latest hot topics of research in Brazilian social sciences is the extreme polarisation of opinions in the country. Social media was at the centre of the street protests of June 2013. The impression then that the internet was unityfing Brazilians against corrupt politicians. However, only a few months later online communication apparently helped to intensify tensions between […]


Brazil fieldsite

Brazil Streetview Image

In the past 20 years, nearly 50 million Brazilians – 25% of the population – have crossed the poverty line and mingled with the country’s working strata to form what has been called by some the “new middle class”. Based on earnings, statistics claim this social group to compose of around 105 million persons nationwide. It is one of the prime ambitions of this project's Brazil research to learn how the internet is being signified by, appropriated within, and impacting upon the lives of this new and important social group.

The project's Brazil fieldsite is located in the country's northeast region, the area that has the lowest performance in social development indexes in relation to the rest of the country. In the 1950s the fieldsite was a village in which most of the 800 dwellers survived by fishing and collecting and trading local products. In the past 20 years, the nearby coastal area became a high-class tourist destination, transforming the field site into a regional commercial hub, but also into a dormitory urban settlement for unskilled migrant workers.

There are about 15,000 people living in the fieldsite today, most of which are renting or building shacks in the various invaded land in its vicinity. The sudden urban growth has brought a number of different phenomena to the area amongst which include: the change in the constitution of families, the shift of life routines, the fragmentation of the settlement’s traditional leadership due to the expansion of the population and of the population’s purchase power, as well as the arrival of drug-related mafia groups, urban-like violence, and the blossoming of Pentecostal evangelic churches. 

Facebook is among the most important signs of social distinction among teens and young adults here. Having a Facebook account is a key element of communication practices for the youth if the area. Those families who have still not purchased a laptop tend to access their profiles through internet cafés paying $1 USD per hour or have cheap smart phone plans that allow monthly access for around $5 USD. 

Facebook – together with online gaming – represent the main reason for being online and even the older population who tend to resist using it have opinions about its recent arrival and about how it has become an "addiction" among their younger counterparts. 

European Research CouncilEuropean UnionUCL Department of Anthropology

Grant number: ERC Project 2011-AdG-295486 SocNet
Project title: Social Network Sites and Social Science