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Revista de Sociologia e Política

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


SEIDL, Ernesto. Military elites, trajectories and political-institutional redefinitions (1850-1930). Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2008, vol.16, n.30, pp.199-220. ISSN 0104-4478.

This study looks at the social and cultural conditions of the formation of the Brazilian army during the Empire and the First Republic. Within a context of weak military autonomy vis-a-vis other social spheres, our results point to the functioning of hybrid recruitment and selection mechanisms regulated by contradictory logics that fuse meritocratic principles (academic degrees, years of service, courage) and extra-meritocratic ones (personalist relationships, political notoreity) for the purposes of promotion. Without denying the effects of the expansion of the military school system and the adoption of formal regulation criteria, our study aims to explore the objective impacts of such innovation over that professional sphere, permitting the analysis of the varied types of resources and strategies employed by social agents, in particular the use of relationships based on personal reciprocity and taking political positions. The reconstitution of the Brazilian military space through the examination of the trajectories of high level officials seeks to contribute to an understanding of what conceptions agents present as legitimate or illegitimate, with conducts being read in variable ways according to the viewpoint adopted and the position occupied within social space. Through an in-depth presentation of two particular trajectories, we note how relationships between social practices, conceptions and meanings associated with particular agents and groups and the processes of institutional re-definition they are located within are articulated, seeking to shed new light on the question of the transformation of political space and the processes of institutional innovation underway in Brazil during the period.

Keywords : military elite; Army; meritocracy; clientelism; social trajectories.

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