Cultures of Politics, Spaces of Power: Contextualizing Brazilian Experiences of Participation
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Brazilian democratic innovation is gathering considerable international attention, spawning a growing interest in replicating the institutional designs of its participatory governance institutions in countries with very different political histories and cultures of governance. Drawing on ethnographic research in the north and north-east of the country, sites to which innovations developed in the south of Brazil have been institutionalized in very different political and cultural landscapes, this article examines the micro-politics of citizen engagement in two participatory governance spaces. Understanding the contributions that Brazilian experience can make to democratic theory and practice, we suggest, requires a more nuanced examination of how democratic spaces and cultures of politics are mutually constructed in practice, and how different forms of power shape this process.