Dissertation Abstracts

The Application of the Resilience Principle to the Relations between State, Society and Law in Brazil

Author: Souza, Luciana C, dralucianacsouza@gmail.com
Department: Theory of Law - Sociology of Law
University: Catholic University - Minas Gerais, Brazil
Supervisor: Rita de Cássia Fazzi
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: Democracy , Citizenship , Resilience , Recognition
Areas of Research: Law , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management , Sociocybernetics


This thesis, defended in 2012, debates the resilience principle, imported to Law from Physics with the intention of equalizing the relationship between State and Civil Society inside the Rule of Law, but not cloistered by it. Today, the resiliency principle is a condition for evaluating the quality of democracy in Brazil; it helps measure state power legitimacy, on the hand, and the quality of citizenship, on the other. If citizens don’t have democratic access, they are not true citizens. In fact, they are considered sub-citizens and the state will not be considered legitimate. The balance between these two subjects—state and civil society (citizens)—is imperative to democracy, especially today, when digital media opens new “doors” to facilitate such relationship. Nowadays, in Brazil, democracy is being redefined. Despite its Greek inspiration and its roots in Enlightenment principles, today the meanings of categories like “individual”, “State”, “popular participation”, “responsiveness” and “rationality” are very different than what traditional studies have shown. The individual is a new category because s/he represents him/herself and, at the same time, a fragmented group created by social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This digital condition, more plural and diverse, which transversal interests are as present as environmental and public space to talk about social demands. Many people do not participate in civil organizations anymore; yet, they immediately answer invitations to participate in public protests that are posted in their online social networks. The other important issue that this dissertation discusses is the extent to which legal pluralism in Brazil is a justifiable way to empower excluded (sub) citizens. In Brazil, the tremendous distance between economic classes interferes with the quality of democracy. Brazilian authorities have a strong heritage of authoritarianism and power concentration which is difficult to manage in social conflicts between the state and citizens, even after the enactment of the Constitution (1988). There are many pluralistic solutions elaborated by the people, including the "Brazilian jeitinho", that resist the authorities and the law every day. As a result, it is very necessary to invest and develop others instruments to facilitate a more effective democracy that is also flexible but strong enough to sustain juridical security desired by the population. This is our ideal of democratic rule of law. It is certainly a great challenge. To allow us to reflect on this ideal, this research analyzes the constructions of citizenship; legal pluralism specific to Brazil; aspects of popular participation in Brazil; and the influence of media rationality in decision making as well as the level of participation. All of this analysis is conducted through the application of the resilience principle, which means finding ways to balance authority – i.e. what is necessary for maintaining safety and avoiding social struggles focused on the defense of particular interests - with an open, flexible and inclusive democracy. The resilient state dialogues with civil society, but it has authority too. To achieve these ideals, Brazil urgently needs to change.

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