This article discusses the emergence of compensatory policies whose main focus has been to reserve places in public higher education for students who, due to their ethnic, racial and/or socioeconomic background , did not or still do not have access to this level of education. It addresses the relationship between the state, social justice and democracy seeking to provide the theoretical and conceptual support to the study of affirmative action policies for higher education in Brazil. Utilizing the methodological resource of argumentative analysis, it examines the conflicts and disputes established in the University Council meeting of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 2012, a period of review of the Affirmative Action program implemented at the university in 2008. As a general conclusion, it is postulated that the conflicts and disputes established by the segments of the Council, particularly faculty and students, express the disputes present in the Brazilian society for a model of social justice in view of public policies of affirmative action for higher education.
Quotas for higher education; University Council; Welfare state; Social justice and democracy; Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul