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Patrimonialism in Faoro and Weber and brazilian sociology

The objective of this article is to study the content and reception of Raymundo Faoro's work in Brazil, comparing it to his Weberian theoretical matrix and postulating that his concept of patrimonialism limits the original explanatory capacity by linking patrimonialism merely to a centralized and powerful political structure and by overlooking the facet of its decentralization and state inoperability. The biased utilization of Weberian theory influences the critiques of Faoro's work, which err when they move from (pertinently) contesting the author's heavy and fatalistic interpretation of Weber to challenging the explanatory potential of the Weberian concept per se. The article thus presents other authors who take a more variegated approach to the theme of patrimonialism, without denying its interpretative importance. Finally, the article emphasizes how Faoro's ideas contributed (unintentionally, by the way) to shaping an anti-statist, privatist, and ultimately oligarchic political culture in recent Brazil. In Brazil, the concept of patrimonialism has exerted a seminal influence and sparked controversies and distinct interpretations - thus, the best stance in such an important discussion is to attempt to clarify the concept, and that is what we have attempted to do, within our limitations.

Brazil; society; political power; patrimonialism; stratum; Weber; Faoro

Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos (IESP) da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) R. da Matriz, 82, Botafogo, 22260-100 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel. (55 21) 2266-8300, Fax: (55 21) 2266-8345 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil