Dissertation Abstracts

Education and Society: The Expansion of Higher Legal Education and Access of Ethnic Minorities

Author: Gianezini, Kelly , kellygianezini@terra.com.br
Department: Education
University: Federal University of Rio Grande of Sul; University California Los Angeles, Brazil
Supervisor: Arabela Campos Oliven; Walter R. Allen
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: university students , Native Brazilians , Afro-Brazilians , Mato Grosso
Areas of Research: Education , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations , Law


This study investigates the expansion of law education in Brazil, its effects in the state of Mato Grosso and the programs directed at students of higher education who belong to ethnic minority groups (specifically, Afro-Brazilians and Brazilian Natives). How and to what extent does the relationship between higher education students, universities, and the appropriation of academic and scientific knowledge achieve cultural, symbolic and instrumental assets? The research uses a mixed methods approach and takes a socio-historical perspective, by analyzing the creation and development of legal studies to the implementation of affirmative action in Brazil at select institutes of higher education (IES). In addition to archival study and document analysis, we also conducted semi-structured interviews with students enrolled in the Program for the Inclusion of Brazilian Natives (PROIND), at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso (UFMT) and with students of Afro-Brazilian origin enrolled in the Program University for All (PROUNI), at the Universidade de Cuiabá (UNIC). The results are presented quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitatively, the findings draw on the INEP and IES data, which is based on the performance of the courses and that of the graduating students as well as SISPROUNI. Qualitatively, the study considers the relations between the fields of law (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil - OAB), politics (Ministério da Educação e Cultura – MEC) and higher education (IES) with regards to the expansion of and the access to law schools, as well as the experiences and perspectives of university students interviewed under the light of Bourdieu's, Rawls' and Dworkin's theories and the referential on public politics and affirmative actions. Given that Brazilian higher education has experienced a two-fold expansion – geographically (by creating institutions) and socially (by creating programs of access) – we organized the results and analysis into three chapters, in consonance with specific objectives. One of these objectives deals with the teaching of law, in which we verified the perception that a historic tension exists between MEC, OAB and IES; this tension emerged in the last decade but has experienced a moment of dialogue throughout the decade, so that initiatives have been initiatives established in hopes of improving law education in Brazil. The next chapter discusses university, law and the access of Brazilian Natives, as well as the context of UFMT and PROIND and the results of the interviews. Even though they have distinct habituses, the students interviewed have been able to incorporate new habitus without abandoning neither their cultural identities nor the habitus they have inherited from their families. We have found that the Program had a personal and academic impact on their lives, both individually--for those who aim at giving back something to their community--and, collectively--because the community itself longs for representatives who understand and defend their interests in legal disputes. The final chapter looks at the rights and the access of the Afro-Brazilians in the university. There, we present the context of the UNIC, the resolution of the Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) on PROUNI and we analyze the results of the interviews. The findings reveal that that Afro-Brazilian students have different trajectories and face different challenges than the previous group. Specifically, the limitations imposed by the academic and social barriers on these students, not only allow them to obtain a graduate degree in law, but they also help create a new status within their academic communities and those of origin.

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