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Partisan Publics:
Communication and Contention across Brazilian Youth Activist Networks
Ann Mische

Honorable Mention for the 2009 Book Award, Section on Political Sociology, American Sociological Association

Paperback | 2009 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691141046
456 pp. | 6 x 9 | 36 line illus. 17 tables.
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During the 1980s and 1990s, Brazil struggled to rebuild its democracy after twenty years of military dictatorship, experiencing financial crises, corruption scandals, political protest, and intense electoral contention. In the midst of this turmoil, Ann Mische argues in this remarkable book, youth activists of various stripes played a vital and unrecognized role, contributing new forms of political talk and action to Brazil's emerging democracy.

Drawing upon extensive and rich ethnography as well as formal network analysis, Mische tracks the lives of young activists through intersecting political networks, including student movements, church-based activism, political parties, nongovernmental organizations, and business and professional organizations. She probes the problems and possibilities they encountered in combining partisan activism with other kinds of civic involvement. In documenting activists' struggles to develop cross-partisan publics of various kinds, Mische explores the distinct styles of communication and leadership that emerged across organizations and among individuals.

Drawing on the ideas of Habermas, Gramsci, Dewey, and Machiavelli, Partisan Publics highlights political communication styles and the forms of mediation and leadership they give rise to--for democratic politics in Brazil and elsewhere. Insightful in its discussion of culture, methodology, and theory, Partisan Publics argues that partisanship can play a significant role in civic life, helping to build relations and institutions in an emerging democracy.


"Partisan Publics is a remarkable book. It will make a mark in sociology, political science, and Latin American studies. It is smartly written, subtle, and packs an important theoretical punch."--Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Mobilization

"I found Mische's qualitative analyses particularly enlightening and refreshing. . . . This book is a valuable addition to the social movements literature, as well as several allied literatures."--D. B. Tindall, Canadian Journal of Sociology

"Partisan Publics is based on a truly multimethod research design. . . . By threading narratives of individual activists through the book, Mische effectively uses the individual biographies to illuminate the overall movement and national history. . . . There is much to be gained by comparing Mische's findings to classical classical research in the social movement's literature."--Catherine Corrigall-Brown, Contemporary Sociology


"Drawing on rich ethnographic data, cutting-edge relational methodologies, and deeply insightful interpretative readings of cultural discourse, Mische sets a new standard for how to conceptualize the dynamic analysis of an institutional field."--John W. Mohr, University of California, Santa Barbara

"With Partisan Publics, Ann Mische establishes herself at the forefront of research seeking solid foundations for a sociology of action and structure that takes seriously cultural projects and partisanship, networks and narratives, institutions and communicative action, and the creation and demise of publics."--Ronald L. Breiger, University of Arizona

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Table of Contents:

List of Figures ix
List of Tables xi
Abbreviations xiii
Acknowledgments xix
Prologue: Exploring Brazilian Youth Activism 1
Part One: Institutional Intersections 15
Chapter 1: Communication and Mediation in Contentious Publics 17
Chapter 2: Leadership in the Intersections 35
Chapter 3: Activist Cohorts and Trajectories, 1977 to 1996 56
Chapter 4: Partisan Bridging in Early Student and Catholic Activism 97
Chapter 5: Civic Mediation in the 1992 Impeachment Movement 134
Part Two: Contentious Communication 181
Chapter 6: Modes of Communication in Institutionalized Publics 183
Chapter 7: Defensive Publics in University Settings 213
Chapter 8: Challenger Publics and Stylistic Innovation 239
Chapter 9: Partisan Dramaturgy and the Breakdown of Publics 287
Chapter 10: Conclusion: Parties and Publics 338
Methodological Appendix 361
Notes 367
References 391
Index 415


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