DYNAMICS OF COLLECTIVE ACTIONS IN CONTEMPORARY BRAZIL: social classes reconfiguration, social uneasiness and labour movement

Marco Santana
  marcosilvasantana@gmail.com
  
Ruy Braga
  ruy.braga@uol.com.br
  USP
Marco Santana
  marcosilvasantana@gmail.com
  UFRJ

Abstract

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory in the 2002 presidential elections in Brazil led to a reconfiguration of the relationship between the trade union movement and the state. Supported by a cycle of economic growth, redistributive public policies and control of the social movements in the country, in particular trade unionism, the administation of Lula da Silva achieved unprecedented levels of public approval. However, since 2008 the number of strikes in the country has risen dramatically, reaching a record high in 2013. How should we interpret the fact that trade unionists aligned with the government are leading a powerful cycle of strikes which, directly or indirectly, runs counter to the government’s own interests? Taking into account the traditional Unions’ role in the conflict organization and mobilization in the Brazilian society, the presentation associates the social classes reconfiguration, contemporary social uneasiness and their impacts upon Brazilian Unionism. The main emphasis on Unions’ role is related to the hypothesis that the different responses from Unions to this new scenario is a privileged opportunity to observe the current social classes reconfiguration during a crisis period and the resulting dynamics of collective action. It is strategic in order to overcome those analysis of the current Brazilian political and economic crisis which emphasizes only the economic policy “errors” of the government of President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) inherited from her predecessor Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva. If it is true that certain political decisions of the federal government tended to interfere with the dynamics of the Brazilian distributive conflict, it seems clear that the focus on political regulation is too narrow to illuminate the complexity of the current crisis. These explanations are unable to reveal the changes in class structure that took place during the Lula era (2002-2010). Indeed, such analyzes fail to explain how the relationship between political regulation and economic accumulation not only failed to pacify class conflict, it radicalized it.

work precarization - young workers - unions - collective action