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Dynamics of power: a study on the patterns of interaction between pressure groups, political parties and the bureaucracy in Brazil

Grant number: 19/19570-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2020
Effective date (End): October 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - State and Government
Principal researcher:Pedro José Floriano Ribeiro
Grantee:Nayara Fátima Macedo de Medeiros Albrecht
Home Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


In Brazil, studies on the politicization of the bureaucracy focus on the appointment of party-affiliated personnel to high-level positions in public institutions. Among other factors, these studies investigate the reasons that lead political parties to appoint people to bureaucratic positions as well as the institutional elements constraining these choices. The specialized literature gives little notice to the role of pressure groups, which are interest groups that pressure the political authorities on specific policies. The literature on lobbying focuses on political outcomes as the main variable to analyze the impact of pressure groups. Nevertheless, other claims are part of the political process as well, such as granting positions to specific supporters. Considering the relevance of the bureaucracy, filling positions in the public sector gives direct control over the formulation and implementation of public policies. This research proposal aims at analyzing the role of political actors in the process of nominating people to bureaucratic positions in Brazil. The central object is the tripartite relationship between pressure groups, parties and the bureaucracy in appointing people to high-level positions. I employ a collective case study regarding the process of nomination in four Ministries from 2015 to 2020. The methodology comprises qualitative and quantitative techniques, such as secondary data on civil servants, surveys with the bureaucracy, and interviews with pressure groups and members of parliament. By triangulating techniques and multiple sources of information, this proposal intends to bring contributions to the comprehension of the process of appointing people to positions in public institutions, especially regarding the power of pressure groups. The topic draws upon discussions on democracy and the interaction channels between civil society and the State.

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