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Revista de Sociologia e Política

Print version ISSN 0104-4478On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


CODATO, Adriano. The formation of a professional political field in Brazil: a hypothesis developed from a case study of São Paulo. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2008, vol.16, n.30, pp.89-105. ISSN 0104-4478.

Through examination of the political properties and the socio-occupational characteristics of São Paulo state representatives at the 1946 National Constituent Assembly, this article provides evidence of three types. With regard to those who were in control of key positions within the State throughout the period of the República Velha (1889-1930) there was: i) an important change in the social origin of the elite; ii) at the same time, a greater professionalization of the political class and iii) these two processes were not simultaneous, yet a "political renovation" did occur, identifiable for example through the change in age group within the elite and the marginalization of the old party oligarchies from which leaders were recruited. Data suggest that variation of attributes within the São Paulo state political class occurred during the Estado Novo period (1937-1945) and - hypothesis to be confirmed - were in fact brought about by the Estado Novo. At a first glance the changing profile of the elite is a result of two successive transformations: first, in conditions of political competition, a fact that has a direct impact on recruitment criteria and second, on selection structure and recruitment mechanisms, thanks to the rearrangements in the bureaucratic apparatuses of the dictatorial State. Yet these institutional variables (the change in regime form in 1937 and the change in the form of the State from 1937 onward) do not fully explain how the bacharel (college graduate) came to substitute both the coronel (rural political boss or member of the rural landowning powers) and the oligarca (oligarch) as the dominant figure in state politics. We conclude that a hypothesis meant to explain the peculiarities of the reformed profile of political elites cannot dispense with an historical analysis within which contextual variables play a decisive role.

Keywords : political elite; political professionalization; Estado Novo; São Paulo; Getúlio Vargas.

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