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Tempo Social

Print version ISSN 0103-2070On-line version ISSN 1809-4554


ONTO, Gustavo Gomes. The economic agent and its relations: identifying competitors in antitrust policy. Tempo soc. [online]. 2017, vol.29, n.1, pp.109-130. ISSN 1809-4554.

Based on an ethnography undertaken at the Brazilian antitrust agency, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade), this article explains the agency’s need to identify competitive agents as part of its investigation into competition issues and describes the way this identification was undertaken in a recent corporate acquisition in the private higher education sector. This identification practice, common in antitrust cases related to “acts of concentration”, such as corporate mergers and acquisitions, is becoming more complex due to the increasing financialization of the economy, since several companies are interconnected through networks of corporate ownership and/or control that are not always explicit. This article describes some of the investigative procedures adopted in order to visualize and conceive a market competitor in this new context. Through this description, the author seeks to demonstrate how certain government knowledge practices – in this case those related to legal regulation of competition – produce economic agents, pointing to the existence of a diversity of forms of agencies that is not always taken into consideration in sociology or anthropology, but which nevertheless permeate and mold economic life..

Keywords : Economic agent; Relations; Competitor; Knowledge practices; Antitrust policy; Cade.

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