The article describes the relationship between state and society in the formulation and management of public policy in Brazil, through a study of the sanitation policy in Rio de Janeiro between 1975 and 1996. The author identified the professional community's social network surrounding this policy and analyzed its structure through a study of the patterns of relationships between individuals, groups and organizations in the community, as well as of the temporal and spatial distribution of public sector investment and the characteristics of the companies contracted in public action. Through this network, the author analyzed the consolidation of Cedae, the state agency responsible for handing out the contracts, its internal power dynamics and its standing within the surrounding political environment, and explained the contracting of the private sector companies who execute the public works. The article concludes that this pattern, based mainly on relationships between individuals built up steadily over the years, is characteristic of the Brazilian state and is an analytical key to the understanding of the implementation of its policies. Its dynamics give rise simultaneously to the consolidation of state agencies and their permeability.
Social networks; Public policy; State; Public sector investment; Contractors