(Photo by Hilreli, Album EleNão #EleNunca Barbacena: Manifestação realizada em 29/09/2018 na cidade de Barbacena – MG. Creative commons license, some rights reserved.)
October 24, 2018
Under the gaze of international social science, Brazil has often been the good case. While attentive to Brazil’s many historical afflictions – poverty, inequality, dictatorship, criminal violence, hyper-inflation, corruption – researchers have, in recent decades, spotlighted the country’s social and institutional advances. They have argued that Brazil is a case, for instance, in which mobilized civil society provided pressure on elites that contributed to the transition to democracy, in which urban popular movements organized for the expansion of social, political and economic rights, in which innovative and inclusive urban reforms provided a model of socially-embedded development, and in which the fragmented party system achieved a relative (if uneven) institutionalization in comparison to other countries in the region. Having lived through some of this history and written about the role of youth politics in democratic reconstruction, I have added my brushstrokes to this vibrant, hopeful (if still complex and contradictory) picture of a country I love. Brazil, as Brazilians often say, is “the country of the future,” always at the leading edge of the waves of history.
Generational change and youth involvement hold special importance within social movement studies. Historically, young people have been deeply involved in the most important social movements in the United States and the World, such as the US Civil Rights Movement, the 60’s student movement in Europe and Latin America, the transnational LGBTQ movement, and many others. Millennials have perhaps been more socially and politically involved than other recent generations. They have engaged in traditional forms of political participation ranging from the conservative (e.g. the Tea Party) to the liberal (e.g. Obama’s two presidential campaigns). Recently, Millennials have also shown their involvement in less traditional forms of political engagement, such as their participation in #NeverAgain, #MeToo, the Women’s March, and other national and transnational social movements. It is clear then that millennials are not only decidedly engaged in the social and political issues that affect them, but also that they are clearly expressing their dissatisfaction through activism. Furthermore, there is evidence that this generation might be engaging in both traditional and innovative ways, expanding the repertoires of contention of previous generations. This dialogue invited social movement scholars and activists to reflect on the roles that millennials have played in recent social movement activity and the implications of their involvement for both our discipline and policy.
Thanks to our second group of contributors on this topic.
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo