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Environmental criticisms and the transformations in the production of soybeans and beef in the Brazilian Amazon

Grant number: 18/00292-5
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2018
Effective date (End): February 28, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal Investigator:Silvio Eduardo Alvarez Candido
Grantee:Silvio Eduardo Alvarez Candido
Host: Mark Granovetter
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Stanford University, United States  

Abstract

The social foundations of the economy have been the object of contemporary economic sociology, with important approaches suggesting that economic actions occur in social spheres shaped by cultural relations and power called fields. One of the challenges of these approaches is to advance in their explanation of the processes of change of the institution that basis for the operation of the economy. In order to overcome this challenge, several authors have established dialogue with contemporary theories of social movements. This is because this area of political sociology focuses precisely on the explanation of cultural transformations based on criticism of the dominant culture. Based on this literature, environmentalism can be treated as an important contemporary social movement that drives transformations in the markets. These criticisms confront powerful companies and may lead to the breaking of their cultural inertia. When successful, they may lead to environmental governance structures in the markets and new categories of products and services.The purpose of this research is to analyze the influence of environmental critics on the transformation of the dynamics of soybean and beef cattle production in the Brazilian Amazon. As these activities became considered main vectors of Amazonian deforestation, environmental organizations developed several strategies to deal with the situation. Two strategic actions led by Greenpeace Brazil in articulation with other public and private organizations stand out. They focused on large soybean processing companies, large slaughterhouses and some of their main customers worldwide, publicly denouncing their direct involvement in deforestation. As a result, after a contentious period, the largest soybean processors and slaughterhouses committed themselves to not purchasing products from newly deforested areas, signing the Soy Moratorium, valid since 2006, the Public Commitment of Livestock, since 2009. Due to the events of the livestock industry, Instituto Centro de Vida, an environmental organization in Mato Grosso, also began to provide technical and environmental assistance to small and medium-sized cattle ranchers, giving rise to a company called Pecuária Sustentável da Amazônia in 2015.To understand these events, a qualitative study will be conducted based on the case study approach. It will be a longitudinal study focusing on the trajectory of the social arenas and the actors involved in a comparative way. Data collection will take place gradually, based on the construction of the research objects as a set of interrelated fields. Secondary sources such as articles, dossiers, reports, press releases, contracts, publicity material and media material will be used. Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders will also be held. Data analysis will be based on several techniques, such as data categorization and narrative construction, textual analysis by computer, discourse analysis and analysis of social networks.The research is relevant both from the theoretical and practical points of view. Theoretically, it will contribute to articulate contemporary sociological approaches, providing a better understanding of the processes of change of the social institutions that enable the operation of the economy. From the applied perspective, it will deal with an important theme for Brazil and the world, which is the conservation of the Amazon, helping to understand the limits and possibilities of environmental strategies oriented to transform the dynamics of productive sectors to stop deforestation. (AU)