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Revista Brasileira de Educação Física e Esporte

Print version ISSN 1807-5509

Rev. bras. educ. fís. esporte vol.27 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2013 



Leisure in Brazil: the transformations during the military period (1964-1984)


Lazer no Brasil: as transformações durante o regime militar (1964-1984)



Marco Antonio Bettine de AlmeidaI; Gustavo Luis GutierrezII; Renato Francisco Rodrigues MarquesIII

IEscola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades, Universidade de São Paulo
IIFaculdade de Educação Física, Universidade Estadual de Campinas
IIIEscola de Educação Física e Esporte de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo





The aim of this paper is to understand some elements of leisure activities in Brazilian society during the military period (1964 to 1984), highlighting the influence of censorship, political repression and economic growth in these activities. The main objective is to illustrate the relationship between these leisure activities (physical activity, sport, film, television, theater) and the Brazilian political and economic reality of that moment. Based on the analysis proposed, it can be concluded that during the period analyzed, the leisure practices studied were censured and managed from a broad national project that has profoundly changed the country giving the basis for mass leisure activities.

Key words: Leisure activities; Social dominance; Brazil.


O objetivo deste trabalho foi compreender alguns elementos das atividades de lazer na sociedade brasileira durante o período militar (1964 a 1984), destacando a influência da censura, a repressão política e o crescimento econômico nestas atividades. O principal objetivo foi ilustrar a relação entre estas atividades de lazer (atividade física, desporto, televisão, cinema, teatro) e a realidade brasileira política e econômica daquele momento. Com base na análise proposta, pode-se concluir que durante o período analisado, as práticas de lazer estudadas foram censuradas e gerenciadas a partir de um amplo projeto nacional que mudou profundamente o país dando a base para atividades de lazer de massa.

Palavras-chave: Atividades de lazer; Regime militar; Brasil.




The military regime, in summarized terms, was a period of stagnation of artistic and cultural manifestations, of proliferation of the multinational companies and increase of the external debt. Leisure was characterized by censorship; the appropriation of popular manifestations by the cultural industry; use of sport ideology; expansion of tourism; and social exclusion. The popular manifestations were restricted and the successive military governments encouraged the expansion of the means of communication, particularly television using soap operas. This period marks the regression of popular leisure and the beginning of urban-industrial leisure, with the authoritarian state taking on the task of offering leisure to the classes, while attempting to control spontaneous manifestations.

The theoretical reference adopted is based on the Habermas' Communicative Action Theory, which consider the systems driven by means of Power and Money; and their relationship based on colonization; and appropriation of the original wealth of the World of Life as fundamental analysis categories. Society is made up of two worlds, the World the Life and the System according to the Habermasian perspective. The World of the Life is expressed when the speakers (subject) and agents create social contexts of life, direct or indirectly, producing symbolic objects that embody knowledge structures. This set of objects makes up reality structured symbolically, prior to any theoretical approach of this domain of objects.

The formation of the World of the Life occurs by means of the cooperation for the symbolic exchanges that will form language, symbolic objects and institutions. The communicative action is undissociable part of the development of the World of the Life. The formation of three worlds occurs in this development: a social world (changes among equals); an objective world (relationship with the environment) and a subjective world (formation of the personality).

In his theory of society, Habermas distinguishes the social environment or "the world of life" (in which man leads his everyday life by establishing more or less direct relationships with others) from social systems (economic, political, legal-normative) as specifically structured and institutionalized interaction patterns among people. In the history of human society, social systems grew out of the world of life. The social systems are maintained by the instrumental action exerted upon the external surroundings, as well as by specially regulated stereotyped communicative action with respect to the internal surroundings, to the nature of its members. Their basic characteristic is to create the system dependence of people and groups and thus they appear as subjects in the political system, as clients in the public service ruling system and as consumers in the economic system. Through the controlling media (such as money, power, influence, value) the social systems affect human behavior, regardless of direct interaction and their individual personal interests. Therefore, historically speaking, in the course of the human society development in time the separation of the systems from the life world takes place as well as the formation of new modern institutions to mediate among people, namely, those based upon wider principles of social integration, knowledge, legitimacy and regulation (p.221)1.

In order to develop the theme, the authors will first present the methodological basis of this article. Next, in order to illustrate the specificity of the military dictatorship in Brazil, the South Cone's National Security doctrine will be presented. Then the instauration, political mobilization and strengthening of the Brazilian Military Regime will be analyzed, presenting the institutional acts, the Executive Power decrees and the control of information. After which, the economical aspects of the so-called "economical miracle" and the influence of censorship and repression in leisure with be


Sociological analysis structure: some aspects of the "Communicative Action Theory" (System and World of Life) and the relationship with Leisure

The concept of World of Life corresponds to three essential formation structures: culture, personality and society - which are the intrinsic undissociable components. The empiric World of Life corresponds to the specific private contents of a culture, a type of society, and a personality structure - these private contents vary in time and history. The language is the means of constitution and transformation of the structures of the World of Life, where encouragement of mutual understanding, allowing the coordination of actions and promoting socialization, are basic functions.

Language, therefore, is a human being's main characteristic feature, which makes him a social and cultural individual, and supplies him with an identity when it allows him to share collective conscience structures.

"The concept of communicative action presupposes the use of language as a medium for a kind of reaching an understanding, in the course of which participants, through relating to a world, reciprocally raise validity claims that can be accepted or contested"2 (p.99)a;. Communicative action as a mechanism for the coordination of actions based on the intersubjectivity of linguistic understanding, will lead to a total lack of coercion, due to the fact that the specific positions should consider the possibility of being contested by others, having to be proven by means of their intentions of validity, and not by any external influence or use of force. "Communicative action as linguistically mediated interactions in which all participants pursue illocutionary aims, and only illocutionary aims, with their mediating actions of communication" (p.295)3.

Communicative action takes place in the World of Life context - a background of implicit, pre-reflective knowledge. Habermas uses Husserl's definition of World of Life as consisting of "individual skills, intuitive knowledge of how one deals with a situation; and from socially acquired practices, the intuitive knowledge which one can rely on in a given situation, not less than, in a trivial sense, the underlying convictions" (p.35)4.

The System, in turn, is made up by the perspective of earnings from nature, where there is a colonization of the World of Life and incorporation of the language focused now on instrumental use. This Instrumental Acting comes from the studies of the Frankfurt School mainly in the decade of 1940, under instrumental reason theme and Adorno and Horkheimer's negative dialectics. The instrumental reason represents a way of recognizing the subject, that appropriates objects of knowledge only with the purpose of dominating and using them as instrumental means.

In the Communicative Action Theory, Habermas5 tries to rehabilitate the original intentions of the critical theory, and substitute the critical model of dominance through the relation of material appropriation of the surplus of production that gives origin to social classes, through the critical model of modern culture, as the fundamental conflicts of the contemporary society are no longer at the economical structure level, but were sent to the superstructural sphere. Based on both rehabilitation and simultaneous alteration of the critical model

Habermas's theory of communicative action represents a critical synthesis of the leading sociological theories, primarily those of Parsons, Weber and Marx. His general theoretical objective is to link the communicative action theory, as a variant of the action theory, with the system theory into a comprehensive approach towards the social theory (p.220)1.

Based on the weberian analyses, Habermas will explain that, because of the acquisition of a new apprenticeship of moral and legal conscience structures, the cultural value spheres create autonomy, acquire their own logic and are institutionalized in cultural action systems. This cultural rationalization allows, therefore, a rationalization to the social level and an increase of the level of systemic complexity that is characterized by the institutionalization of the capitalist economy and modern State. With the differentiation of the economical and administrative action systems, an independence dynamics of the social subsystems comes forth, and which revolves very strongly around money and power, so much so that it becomes completely disconnected from cultural values. Thus, a rupture occurs between systems and world of life, between economic and administrative systems and the institutionalized rationality structures in cultural action systems.

Habermas conceives the evolution of societies as a gradual scission process of the social whole - that gathered the world of life and a little differentiated social system - where the systemic mechanisms become more and more detached from the social structures where social integration occurs, until this differentiation reaches the point where autonomous organizations are coordinated through non-linguistic means - money and power - and produce social intercourse which is disconnected from rules and values, mainly in the economic and administrative activities.

The habermasian analysis of society first goes through the communication and people interaction forms, which is indispensable for the understanding of the world of human relations. This statement enables the interpretation of society based on its cultural production, since it is a relevant form of analysis of society. Habermas believes that the material evolution of societies is a consequence of the cultural evolution in the world of life.

Leisure interpreted by means of the "Communicative Action Theory" would essentially be a social relationship, or inter-subjective practices that are expressed in the world of life. In this sense, leisure cannot be seen as part of some private context, for example: economy, politics or urbanization, but it is something unique that is interconnected with the several elements which interpret human action within society.

There is a need for communication in leisure activities. Cinema, television, radio and music are based on the idea of communication among subjects searching for understanding. The essence of cultural production linked to leisure is to add one more representative of the World of Life, contributing towards the evolution of language, institutions and personality building. Leisure expresses the three worlds: social (relationship among people); objective (transformation of nature) and subjective (construction of subjectivity).

According to the "Communicative Action Theory", one can state that leisure appears in the world of life through the integration among people, in the search for fun and pleasure, as characteristic and constituent elements of human nature. The complication of leisure occurs in modern societies due to a) time systemization (separation of the world of obligations from the world of fun), which occurs with the separation of work (System) and leisure (World of Life), where leisure is an example of the transition to a more complex society, illustrating the division between System and World of Life. And b) in the disenchantment of the World (rationalization of the ways of life), since one can notice what is called by Habermas, through Weber, in leisure, as rationalization of symbols, loss of the sacred and adoption of more rational ways of living.

Another process that can be shown by leisure is the colonization of the World of Life the Power System and the Money System. In short, the Money System is the performance of the market and of the industry, and the Power System is the performance of the State through public politics, laws, and decrees. With the development of society, leisure is incorporated by the Power System and Money System. Leisure, after this colonization, continues being something expressed spontaneously in the World of Life, however, it will also be an object to be exploited by the System. Leisure becomes therefore something that is expressed by: a) the Power System: State intervention in people's leisure; as well as b) the Money System: market action to create and sell different types of distractions; or even still; c) the World of Life: spontaneous sociability actions in spaces free from Market or State interference, such as friends, streets and houses.


The instauration, intensification and political mobilization in the Military Regime

The 60's and the 70's were characterized, in Latin America, by military dictatorships. Many theses have been developed on this theme and among them the danger of communism, the necessity for a strong government for a later industrial revolution and the fragility of the democratic institutions. The aim here is not to describe the reasons for the Military regime in Latin America or in Brazil, solely however its influence on leisure, sport and physical activity. It is however worthy of note that the Brazilian dictatorship had a peculiarity that sets it apart from the others, it was the only military government that had organized stratification in all the institutions of power: mayors, governors, representatives, senators and president. During the 20 year time frame, the following presidents carried out the presidential mandates established by the constitution: Castello Branco; Costa e Silva; Médici; Geisel; and Figueiredo.

Except for 1968, when Congress was closed due to Institutional Action number 5, there were elections every two years for the legislative power, although the performance of the opposition varied a lot. The Brazilian dictatorship, if compared to those of neighboring countries (Argentina, Uruguay and Chile) was characterized by a greater concern about preserving relationship channels with civil associations, preserving a process of personal alternation in power and for a less sanguinary repressive action. Although divergences exist among the different sources, it is said that a hundred and fifty people died or disappeared during the repression in Brazil. The military regime in Argentina, a country whose population is a fifth of that of Brazil, is accused of killing up to thirty thousand people, in Chile the number is three thousand people and in Uruguay, a country that today has little more than three million inhabitants, about a hundred and fifty died and disappeared during the dictatorship.

This is a too complex and controversy phase of Brazilian history to be developed in detail here, without moving away from the central theme. However, there is a relative consensus that a fundamental element to understand the dictatorship in Brazil, and the specificity of the Brazilian military institution, is the fact that the Brazilian army had struggled beside the allies in the Second World War. The contact with the armed forces, mainly North American ones, in concrete fighting conditions and the example of the generals of the most powerful army of the world being subordinated, with absolute naturalness, to the constituted civil power, seems to be an important element to understand the culture of Brazilian armed forces. The period of military dictatorship in Brazil begins with the coup d'état of 1964. In 1968, there is a worsening of the regime due to the increase of repression. The beginning of the re-democratization process that ends with Tancredo Neves' election in 1984, begins after the electoral defeat of the party that represented the government, the ARENA (National Renovating Alliance), in 1974. This illustrates that during the whole period, in spite of the repression and censorship, there was a concern in maintaining contact with the civil association by means of voting in wide electoral processes. It is also important to highlight that, even though all the presidents during that period were army generals, there was never a strong man who was a personal and hegemonic representative of the dictatorship, contrary to what is usually common in these cases, like for example Pinochet in Chile, Franco in Spain or Fidel Castro in the island of Cuba.

The mark of dictatorship for Gaspari6, despite the stratification of power was a regime of exception. For Couto7, the most used anti-democratic mechanism during this time were the institutional acts, where the executive commanded the other two powers with the objective of preserving the military ideas of national security, eliminating any criticism made against the political system. These acts delegated power to the executive, against the legislative and judiciary, serving to reprimand the population, the politicians, the artists and any other form of manifestation.

Based on Couto7, another important element used by the regime, was the National Information System (SNI) whose aim was to preserve the nation against values considered harmful to society, for example subversion, terrorists and communists. The SNI controlled the arts, performances and leisure. In the opinion of the analysts, Brazil went from being the industrialization country, the country of a new aesthetics, of the Tropicáliab, of the Bossa Novac, to the country of a regime of exception, of terrorism and of extermination groups. Based on habermasian readings4, the authoritarian state that projects itself into people's lives coercively invading the World of Life and restricting spontaneous exchange, impedes manifestation of leisure and the inter-subjective exchanges, increasing the performance of the Power System in people's lives. Based on this evidence, it seems reasonable to state that there was an impoverishment of ideas and actions during the tougher years of the dictatorship.

Moreira8 points out that the first of the Institutional Actsd (AI-1), was decreed by order of the three military heads (Army, Navy And Air force) even before Castello Branco'se taking of office, which defined the annulling of opposition party members' mandates or the mandates of those notoriously corrupt, the suspension of political rights for a ten year period and the suspension of parliamentary immunity. In time, military repression reached everybody, as per Antonio Caso9, those that had carried out the military coup eliminated Brazilian intellectuality, expelled scientists, deposed deans of universities, substituting them with military administrators or civilian collaborators. There was an impoverishment of culture in the intellectualized environments, such as literature, theater performances, songs, films, arts, forcing Brazilian thought into unilateralism. With the slow intensification of the regime, there is a mobilization of the intellectuals, legislators, judges, opposition parties and sectors of the UDNf. Gaspari6 points out that in the beginning, "the right wing supported the coup, to after move away when noticing that the army, after taking over the power, would not be handing it over to civilian political representatives" (p.83). Due to this, the army lost its strength in Congress and so as to avoid conflicts with parliamentary members decreed institutional act number 2 (AI-2), which extinguished the pluriparty regime for a bi-party one, polarized between the Arena (National Renovating Alliance) and its opposition MDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement). Couto7 remembers that this act transfers to the president, the possibility of decreeing a state of siege giving him the right to annul mandates and intervene in the municipalities and states.

The control of the elections took place with the AI-3 that established election rules for federal, state and municipal areas. Based on Azevedo10, the federal and state positions of the Executive and Legislative were filled by indirect elections. Due to the great changes caused by the Institutional Acts, the army created a new Constitution, sanctioned by Institutional Act number 4. Gaspari11 affirms that due to this constitution, there was a large centralization of power in the hands of the Federal Government and a consequent loss of autonomy in the state and municipal areas.

According to some intellectuals of the time, such as Gaspari6, Couto7, Ridenti12, Hollanda13, Costa14, Gorender15, Moreira8, the final blow against democratic ideas was struck by means of the institutional Act number 5, AI-5, on 13th December, 1968. At this time, the president was General Arthur da Costa e Silvag (governing from 1967 to 1969). The president closed congress, invested in the annulment of mandates and suspension of political rights. One of the most pungent measures of this AI-5 was the suspension of habeas corpus, a fact which complicated the situation of political prisoners. Differing to the other Institutional Acts, the AI-5 did not have a time of validity, and remained until 1979h. With Institutional act number 5, hundreds of citizens and political leaders had their rights annulled and the SNI was created.

Due to fear and insecurity, there is a reduction in collective sociability, limiting the possibilities of spontaneity16. Restriction of freedom of expression also affects leisure activities leading to the censorship of innovative ideas on the one hand and on the other towards the direction of political propaganda. Sant'Anna17 and Ramos18 should be noted for their work in physical education and television respectively. The former with political formation through discipline, agility, efficiency, orderliness and docility; the latter with a message of patriotism and ideology. RAMOS18 points out that these facts marked the end of a blossoming cultural and popular movement, opening way for the cultural industry, especially television. Based on the author, television wisely incorporated the concepts of popular culture, adopting a more progressive and developmentalist speech, repressing political manifestations.


The economical miracle and the armed struggle

The state has large influence in the transmission of information, spreading the idea of large economical development in the country, trying to justify the regime of exception by means of this development. The economical growth, according to Moreira8, really favors the concentration of revenue in the hands of a small dominant class, characterizing an economical development of exclusion. As per Gaspari's11 analysis, the economical growth led to certain stability in relation to state repression. The increase of income in the middle class encouraged it to be neutral in terms of the arbitrary actions of the State.

However, the military regime did not live only with compliance. There was the organization of a left wing resistance movement by students, intellectuals, artists and workers, with even armed struggle in the country. Paramilitary groups, such as the Aliança de Libertação Nacional (ANL) - National Liberation Aliance) and the Movimento Revolucionário 8 de Outubro (MR-8 - 8th of October Revolutionay Movement), were responsible for the kidnapping of the North American Ambassador, Charles Elbrick, (exchanged for 15 political prisoners sent to Mexico); bank robberies; kidnapping of politicians; and the organization of armed struggle inland. Gaspari11 states that torture, "a common practice of the government, intensified at the same rate as the movements of armed struggle" (p.113).

The army responded to the armed fighting with the decree of the National Security Law. Based on this decree, political prisoners would be treated as common prisoners, sharing the same cells in police stations and penitentiariesj. The government's despotism in placing the original prisoners from the armed groups in contact with the common prisoners served the purpose, on one hand, of providing greater state control and on the other, led to the development of criminal factions inspired on the molds of the left urban guerrilla, active until the present day in Brazil.

The extermination groups were another government action to contain the armed opposition. Friar Beto, in the well known book "Blood Baptism", describes the execution of Carlos Mariguella, leader of the National Liberation Alliance. "Brazil Never Again" was another very important book that recovered statements of men who were tortured by the Operation and Information Detachment and Internal Defense Operations Center (DOI-CODI). Bishop Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns, one of the idealizers of the book, managed to collect a realistic portrait of the government action in the repression of opposition movements.

At the same time that the repression increases, the Gross National Product (GNP) grows almost 12% per year and the annual inflation average does not go over 18%, as seen in the data of Castro and D'Araújo19. In the beginning of the 70's, there was the so called "Economic Miracle" with the state collecting more, making big loans and attracting external projects of great magnitude in the industrial, agronomical, mineral and infrastructure areas.


Censorship, repression, artistic production and leisure

The government interfered in the leisure options for Brazilians, clearly demonstrating that the control of the use of leisure time was a widely used weapon to maintain the population away from democratic ideals. These facts strengthen Almeida and Gutierrez16 thesis on the use of leisure time and artistic production in dictatorial regimes.

Using the habermasian view, it can be affirmed that the State, through institutional acts, overcomes the other spheres that constitute society, with the systems guided by means of Coin and World of Life. Systems driven by means of Coin, the definition of which can be identified with the market in an ample sense, acts as a activator of specific leisure practices that seek profit providing fun, for example, the investment in tourism, in clubs, in radio and television. The World of Life, in turn, is the storage of human knowledge where all the spontaneous leisure practices occur, through the communicative relationship between subjects. In the case here analyzed, the Power System (or political system in a different perspective), represented by the State interferes in the systems directed by the means of Coin, diminishing the number of possible leisure practices due to censorship, repression and the guiding of the activities, similar to what occurred with sports, cinema, poetry, music and theater. The influence of the State grows and the control over the World of Life increases, for example suppressing the encounter of people in public places through a state of siege. In a habermasian perspective, the spontaneous inter subject relationships in conditions of liberty make up the basis of the World of Life and the increase in control, by the State, points out an increase in the colonization process of its original wealth20.

Gaspari21 presents some interesting data which provides the extension of censorship in cinema. According to the author, the Department of Censorship and Public Entertainment of the Federal Police, censored around 25 thousand films (national and foreign ones) up to 1984. The importance of the control of leisure practices for the army becomes clear, as for them, films were part of the public entertainment. The idea of holding together the spirit of economical miracle, the false idea of a democratic country and mainly, of maintaining moral and Brazilian family values was arguments used by the army to justify the interventions in leisure practices.

In order to control and follow the cultural production, the army created specific organizations. From films to physical activities, the army was present, either to build a national identity, or to destroy forms of resistance. Sant'Anna17 points out that the government participated actively in Brazilian leisure, aiming at order, development of healthy bodies and repressing laziness. The concern of the armed forces, according to the author, was to maintain order and instill the importance of the Government as a greater representative of the people in the nation.

The radio, while the most popular means of communication in the beginning of the Castello Branco government, spreading through all of the national territory, was an important consolidation instrument of military ideals. The control of this information vehicle occurred very rapidly, placing interceptors in the direction of the main stations in the nation. The AI-5 blocked attempts of resistance by means of the radio, due to the fact that any subversive idea broadcasted in the programs was traced by the SNI22. Popular music, at first an instrument of political contestation, like for example tropicália from Gilberto Gilk and Caetano Veloso, and the protest sambas of Chico Buarque and Geraldo Vandré, were rapidly repressed and the authors exiled12-13,23-25. With the economical miracle, the radio lost its place to television. It is possible to point out an interesting fact here, both most important means of communication in Brazil had their greatest development under dictatorial regimes, the radio with the New Statel and the television with the Military Regime. Coincidences aside, these facts confirm Arendt's26 thesis that dictatorship governments have the means of communication as their backbone to make the political and social situation legitimate.

Contrary to television and radio that had interceptors on their board of directors, as highlighted by Ortiz24, the theater suffered the repression under the truncheon. Hollanda13 remembers the impossibility of action of the Popular Center of Culture and of the National Union of Studentsm in the neighborhoods, factories and student groups. These were dissolved in the so-called lead years, as the government was worried about keeping the mass of contesting artistic production far away. This led to a fast and drastic decrease of neighborhood theater groups in the years of greatest political repressionn. Almeida27, in turn, remembers that the limits imposed by the dictatorial governments in the moments of leisure contributed towards creating a great cultural emptiness in relation to theatrical spectacles on the streets. This deepened the rupture of the Brazilian cultural tradition of outdoor theater.

Another important aspect on the limitation of the practice of leisure is the loss of collective areas for the meeting of people. The street was no longer a place for leisure, due to urbanization, real estate exploration and increase in the number of circulating vehicles. But repression accelerated this process and substituted the meeting on the street with television and cinema. These activities match perfectly with the repression on the streets, because the National Information Service's censorship on plays, music, films, radio programs and TV ensure the government that the population will not get involved with themes which are seen as subversive. Censorship not only limited the Brazilian cultural production, its presence determines access to foreign artistic production. Films with subversive connotation or obscene language were strictly forbidden, as for example the film "A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick, 1971". According to Ridenti12 (p.180), there was a cultural decrease in the regime because the oxygenation of the national thought was surrounded by censorship in national and foreign arts, conducting thoughts towards a State vision.

An authoritarian State that is projected coercively in people's lives, invading the World of Life and reducing spontaneous changes, prevents manifestation of leisure and intersubjective changes, increasing the performance of the Power System. Due to this, it seems reasonable to affirm that there was an overflow of ideas and actions during the hardest years of the dictatorship.

As presented at the beginning, the Money System makes leisure practices more dynamic, through countless projects and practices seeking profit from the commerce of entertainment, such as investment in tourism, in clubs, in radio and in television. When the Power System, represented by the State, invades the Money System reducing the number of leisure practices due to censorship, to the repression and orientation of activities, such as what occurred with movies, poetry, music and theater, a limitation of the possibilities of leisure activities takes place. In turn, when the World of Life is invaded by the Power System, through the exception/exclusion regime, there is a weakness of the spontaneous practices of the World of Life. This is what happens, for instance, when the State suppresses the possibility of the people meeting in groups, when decreeing a state of siege. For Habermas, this action characterizes the colonization of the World of Life for the System.


Music, Theater, Cinema and Physical Activities: leisure connected to the regime

The army invested in political propaganda spreading sentences such as "Brazil - love it or leave it", forming an ideological instrument in the audiovisual arts18 (p.32). With censorship well implanted in the communication means, television, which had a peak at this period, was used to form governmental ideology of harmony; economic and social development; support of the army; and entertainment. The development of television shows the State allied to the cultural industry, through the investment in non-political themes such as the soap operas, humor programs and sports28.

During the Médici period, middle class leisure was characterized by activities that were similar to those in other countries, such as international trips, the creation of touristic areas and hotels, car rides at the weekends (due to the army having continued the building of roads all over the country), access to films that were not censored, amplification of museums, the propaganda of typical songs from the cultural industry such as the Jovem Guardao; expansion and creation of clubs. In summary, it can be said that leisure for the Brazilian middle class in this period followed, with some particularities such as censorship, the development of leisure in industrialized countries. At the same time, the lower income sectors had their leisure space, such as the street and popular manifestations, restricted. With little money and facing the emerging crises in the world economy, the refuge was home and soap operas that also served as propaganda for the political regime. These two sides of leisure lead to the affirmation that the military regime developed leisure into an elite activity.

Costa affirms that the national cinema made great advances, in production as well as in propaganda, during the period between 1974 and 1980, when the military government institutionalized the so called "Obligatory law" that guaranteed the exhibition of national films in the cinema during a certain amount of days per year. The application of this law was defended and verified by the Brazilian State Film Company and National Council of Cinema, which established, by means of a resolution, the number of days/year to be dedicated to national cinema.

There was an interesting movement in music from radio to television, as it was now possible to watch and imitate the artists. It is important to also emphasize the great success of festivals29 and the insertion of music in television programs by means of the auditorium programs and programs imported from the radio, such as the Novice Festivalp.

Tourism was another important segment of leisure that was controlled by military governments. Only with the military regime was there a governmental systematization for the collection of resources and propaganda abroad. Santos Filho30, explains the difference of investment in tourism in the Juscelino Kubitschek (1956-1960) government and in the military regime (1964-1984), outlining that during the period between 1966 and 1980 there was a governmental program to increase tourism as a source of income:

After the Juscelino Kubitschek government, the touristic activities had constant growth, however, it was only during the military regime with the creation of Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Company), an institution connected to the first echelon of the government, that tourism developed on an international scale. There was an investment in propaganda in the embassies and internal tourism was also appreciated. This made the military regime the great idealizer of tourism with foreign investment, selling natural attributes and Brazil's beauty (p.6).

The economic growth, helped by the miracle, impelled the expansion of highways, increased the investments in aviation and in the automobile industry, causing a positive impact in internal and external tourism. The vacation trip such as tourism in hotels, camping sites, hostels, by car or hired buses, developed a seasonal job market in recreational activities. Leisure time appears, for the government as well as for the private sector, as an interesting piece of market to be exploited by tourism. The State aims for the increase in the commercial scale and employment, and in second place profit. An important factor to analyze the expansion of tourism in the 1970's was the extra income of the rich countries that was now being spent on this activity. In order to absorb these potential clients, a structure of services such as hotels, transport operators and tourist agencies, were necessary. Lage and Milone31 illustrate the presence of state investment to promote tourism and settle it as a field of economic action. Neto32 remarks that the State should be the greatest promoter of tourism and Goeldner et al.33 remembers the importance of the communication means for the diffusion of the tourist attractions. All of these investments were financed by the government, or by foreign capital with great government support, enabling tourism to expand rapidly, increasing the visit of foreigners to the country.

The manner in which tourism developed strengthens the thesis that the main Brazilian leisure activities need primarily governmental finance, to then be exploited by private capital. There is a tendency in Brazilian politics to have the active participation of the State in the most important sectors of modern leisure, such as radio, television, tourism, parks and culture centers. Leisure has its basis of support in the government not only for social public politics - for example in leisure activities to contain violence - but also for investment in areas which will later be exploited by the private sector - construction of roads, hotels, infrastructure in the towns and cities and financing policy .

For Gaspari11 "the military government was really concerned about Brazil's image abroad, seen as the country of torture and of violation of human rights" (p.380). The army wished to have in hand an instrument which was capable of containing and hiding the crisis of society in all sectors. Thus, the articulation of organizations to spread Brazil's image according to the interests of the Government, began. In this sense, Embratur (Brazilian Tourism Company) and Embrafilm (Brazilian Film Company) are entities that served to improve the country's image, the first through tourism and the second through cinema.

Santos Filho30, apart from placing the use of tourism as a form of propaganda of the government, also points out the spreading of the idea of the Brazilian woman’s beauty and carnival:

Propaganda made and spread during the military government, carried out by Embratur to change and lessen the fame of a country ruled by a dictatorship, aimed at perfecting the image of Brazilian woman, desired for their esthetic attributes such as buttocks, breasts and by the ease of courting them, and to show the wonders of carnival and the well-known thong bikinis. Embratur appears with the function of ordering a national policy of tourism, according to the statement of its first president Joaquim Xavier da Silveira, one of the directors of the Rio de Janeiro Commercial Association, demonstrating the power of Rio as a strength of national tourism and the emphasis given to Brazil's propaganda: sea, sun, tanned women from Ipanema beach with their exportation standard bikini: finally, indispensable hypothesis, propaganda and promotion of Brazil abroad (p.9).

Embratur, fulfilling the initial function of being a representative of the government, elaborated and preached an official speech presenting the idea of a multiracial Brazil of pacific, democratic and ordered tone to the world. It used propaganda of exploration of the erotic and of the Brazilian woman's beauty, as well as working the exotic side and the cultural diversity, demonstrating a sociability which is much more a product of romances and soap operas than historical reality of the country. Cultural products such as soap operas served as the source of propaganda of the government abroad.

Despite the statements of Santos Filho30,34 about the political use of the state organizations, it must be noted that the propaganda the country made of itself is positive, especially in regards to tourism. In the 1970's, there was a plan for national development and tourism, it was a large prime piece of the international market, absorbing job generating investments, and increasing local infrastructure and the collections of exchange values. Embratur gave a political basis for these accomplishments. The army used fiscal incentives for the creation of hotel and service networks and made a great effort to transfer part of the international tourist flow to Brazil.

In practice, two basic groups of tourist activities were created: one made up of luxurious hotels, trips around the world, foreigners arriving, state investment; and another for weekend highway leisure, for the middle class, with activities such as camping and Inns, using local labor, without any state policy support. The lack of planning led, in many cases, to the destruction of the natural environment, destruction of other productive activities to benefit tourism and the formation of slums. All of the problems coming from the economical miracle, such as the concentration of wealth and investments in big financial gatherings, appear also in the field of tourism, due to state actions having been structured in a very coherent manner and within the same logic in all sectors16.

The last subject to be dealt with is sports. According to Sant'Anna17, it was used in the military regime with great popular repercussion. The government programs were structured to act in the towns as the EPTg (Esportes Para Todos - Sports For All). One of the objectives of the investment in sports was the development of athletes who would represent the nation in the International Games. The country of the economical miracle should posses a structure for sports in agreement with the growth rate in the 1970's. To be able to do so, it was necessary to invest in the better known sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, and track and field, apart from creating conditions for the renewal of athletes. It was indispensable, therefore, that more people could have access to sports in order to find new talents. Sant'Anna17 points out that Sports For All had a double function: while it enabled the search for these athletes, it also allowed the practice of sports by the population. As was said by its idealizers, such as colonel Lamartine Pereira da Costa stated that Sports For All provided health and athletes. Inspired on European programs, it was adjusted by interceptors in the towns that, using a national "letter" developed by officials from the army as a starting point, used dates such as National Week, Children's Day, Soldier's Day to develop activities from Olympic sports, however, adapted to allow greater participation.

Colonel Lamartine Pereira da Costa and Professor Antonio Carlo Bramante, among others, were the physical education professionals that implemented the Sports For All in Brazil, renewing physical activities, promoting health, quality of life leading to a proposal of leisure. For many towns, which did not even have a leisure center, the Sports For All project was a great action mark of the regime in the leisure and community sports' area. Sant'Anna17 states that sport was used by selling an image of national cohesion, cleanliness, hygiene, health, strength and athletic formation. Television was widely used for its diffusion, from regional actions, usually discontinued and isolated, to transmission of competitions.

Sports were important for the military regime. An example is the adoption, in 1971, of obligatory physical education at School. The government's ideal was the total formation of men(9) through physical education at school, adopting a utilitarian character, in the sense of preparing workers, assisting the assistential policies and finding new sporting talents. Betti35 remarks that the functions established by physical education at school, in the obligatory act, were to educate character, promote the improvement in physical capacity of the population and organize sport practices.

The intention of promoting an improvement of the population's physical capacity, associated to the expansion of sport, lead physical education at school to a sporting process. This process did not occur exclusively to discover new talents. The sport taught at school was based on high performance rules and transmitted values such as respect to rules and authorities, through mass activities, with unified rules, based on the specialization of actions and movements. Sport was seen by the State as a phenomenon that aggregated society that gives a mass character to physical activities and employs values that help towards certain social control36. The sporting process of physical education at schools provided education linked to the control and respect for hierarchy, disguised by the development of the feeling of union, patriotism and sport representation. The insertion of sport in the educational environment became clear with the creation, in 1970, of the Department of Sports and Physical Education, as a superior direction central organization of the Ministry of Education and Culture, with the objective of establishing control, by the government, of the Physical Education at School, juvenile sports and recreation through sports35.

Sports takes on a privileged post in this way, seen as a possibility of mass leisure, forming of citizens that respect rules and authorities, transmission of competition values and search for growth, national representation and the manner to present the country as a great nation in development. Another occurrence that illustrates the government's objective to form athletes and make physical capacity an elite activity, was the creation of sports training groups in schools from the secretariat of Education of the State of São Paulo, in the beginning of the 1980's, and the elevation of the Department of Sports and Physical Education to the level of secretariat in 1982, reinforcing the differentiated treatment for Physical Education at School.

After this explanation, the political, social and economic importance, of the leisure activities, for the government, becomes clear. The State, in the military regime, at the same time that it continues the developmental project, tries to remove the contestational political character, investing in television, in cinema, in tourism, in parks, in sports and physical activities, in order to form an ideological instrument based on leisure time. From 1964 to 1984, an incredible expansion of production, distribution and consumption of services linked to leisure activities took place, according to the necessity of support from the government together with the population.

It is important to note that the criticisms made towards these projects highlight, many times, the ideological use of sport as propaganda for the regime. Remembering Habermas' statements, in the "Communicative Action Theory", human actions are not neutral, they have meaning, this way the government programs reflect a government action where one cannot deny the political use of sport. At the same time, it should also be noted that the armed forces implanted a great national project of physical activity, believing that they could help keep people, mainly youngsters, away from subversion and contestation of the regime. To deny the importance of the armed forces' policies of incentive towards physical social and leisure activities, during the study period, is a great mistake. Despite political instrumentalization, there was a large investment in the sector.

We can observe a progress in the Power System over the characteristics of the World of Life, typical of dictatorship that increases the control of the State over people. More recently, with the democratization of relationships, what one can notice is not an immediate retaking of the original relationships of the World of Life, but an increase of the Money System’s importance with a strong mercantilization of leisure practices and, particularly, of sport in a wide sense.


Consolidation of the Cultural Industry in the Brazilian scenarior

Television influenced all the culture of the period. The new means of communication possessed a frightening reach, leading to the incorporation of artists and technicians who saw it as a new way of expressing art. For Ortiz et al.28, the most visible face in the conservative modernization process that characterized the period was exactly the expansion of this vehicle of communication.

Television elevated carnival to a condition of merchandise for mass consumption, including exportation. In the 1970's, the Ministry of Tourism used carnival as Brazilian propaganda for foreigners. In 1973, the records of samba school songs became a phenomenon in sales in the recording market and in this same year TV Globo was responsible for filming and transmitting Carnival internationally. Carnival is a leisure activity, a phenomenon of the Cultural Industry, and a folkloric manifestation. Despite its insertion in the market, samba schools still possess a strong popular penetration. Carnival is one of the most famous and a grandiose expression of Brazilian popular culture and it is a phenomenon that must be studied by itself, due to its complexity, where a basis of industrial urban culture lives with the popular and folkloric street carnival.

The preferred television network at that time ended up being Globo TV Network. The option occurred due to, without a doubt, political motives, but the incredible success that Globo attained in Brazil must also be credited to the artistic and business talent with which it was conducted. "Its professionalism and quality standard marked the time. For its merits and unmerits, it was Globo that imposed the Brazilian model of television"37 (p.9). The mark of these transformations for Globo for Hamburger38 was 1969, with the consolidation of the company in the communication business and the increase of its network, enabling the Network to conquer from that time on an ever increasing audience.

For Kornis37 Globo network placed the national-popular themes on TV that on the one hand pleased the public, and on the other pleased the army. Globo' soap operas presented, for example, adaptations of classics from Brazilian literature. Hamburger38 points out that the soap operas dealt with questions related to Brazilian reality, adopting a realistic tone, without losing the view of entertainment and popular enjoyment. The soap opera was a national phenomenon, able to hold the attention of 70% of the spectators with its everyday language, theme on private lives and cultural diversity. According to Kornis37 in 1964, when the history of Brazilian television started, Brazil had 34 TV stations and 1.8 million TVs. In 1978, there were already 15 million TVs. In 1987, 31 million TVs spread around the country of which 12.5 million were colored. Today it holds sixth position in the world in terms of TVs installed.

One of the great moments of Brazilian TV was the transmission of the world cup in 1970. Brazil was united patriotically in front of the TV. The repercussion of this world cup was so great that the politicians used this as political propaganda. The Pan Americam conquests and the Olympic medals also led to Brazilian pride, showing that the sports program and the obligatory physical education in schools, developed by the military government were strategies that had proven right.

The artistic expressions of this period absorbed the popular, removing the whole transforming aspect which there had been in the previous conceptions, leaving only the aesthetic, colorful and marketable elements. Habermas2 discusses this process alerting that the technological means incorporate the popular cultural expressions, the social representations and their characters, through a process of colonization of the world of life. When bringing the industrial system to the world of culture, in the seventies, there is a mechanical and market oriented systemization of the expressions that provide elements to the artistic world and that, according to Habermas, are in the world of social afinity and intersubjective relationships.

The incorporation process of the popular arts as an industrial practice, according to Habermas2, occurs due to the development of the modern societies. The German author states that a continuous process of complexity of the society exists, where the means of industrialist communication is born from the appropriation of the communication of the substituted World of Life, later, for the strategic use of this communication seeking profit. The problem, as already pointed out, is not the development of new communication technologies, because the search for better means of information exchange is intrinsic to the World of Life and not to the Systems. The problem is in the use of this technology as a source of profit or ideological popularization, which is frequent in the military regime. Television, movies and radio were technological incorporation mechanisms of drama texts and of popular music. The broadcastings incorporated the popular characteristics in such a way that we see them as an extension of the industrial communications system, far from of its origin in the original relationships of the World of Life.



The authors tried herewith to illustrate the transformation of leisure during the military regime period in Brazil, marked by repression, censorship and armed fighting, highlighting the use of leisure time based on a long term policy of the sector.

The military regime is characterized by a) a cultural impoverishment of the arts, with a number of productions censored and artists exiled; b) a limitation in popular leisure due to the validity of the state of siege and repression on the streets; c) the increase of industrial urban leisure with cinemas, theaters, clubs and tourism; d) investments in large economical groups in the area of leisure; e) the use of ideology in sports victories; f) a concern in promoting programs of physical activity as for example "Sports for All"; g) the development of TV and soap operas as the most frequent form of leisure for the majority of Brazilians.

It is not possible, due to the limits of this article, to put forward all of the complexity of the approached period. The regime went through hardening and distention phases. Divergences took place inside the dominant group, as well as in its relationship with representatives of great national and international wealth. The civil association changed its form of perceiving the government and became organized to demand return to full democracy.

The intention here is just to reinforce the importance of the use of leisure time and the government politics that tried to articulate leisure activities with a wider national project, as well as their use to try to perpetuate the exception/exclusion regime at the time. The democratic restoration, that occurred in the second half of the 80's, found a very different country from that which government the armed forces occupied in 1964. Great part of the exiles suffered a hard culture shock when returning to the country. It is possible that, in many cases, the changes in the use of leisure time and in leisure activities have formed the daily facet of these transformations.



a. Habermas2 it differentiates the action in two forms: "strategic action, linked to egocentric success and communicative action linked to consensus" (p.361). In the communicative action, the participants are guided towards the search of consensus. In strategic action, the agents look for their own success. In this sense, it can be seen that society is not just made up of unilateral principals of success or based on the carrying out of norms, as well as economical aspects, but should be seen through the complexity of the communicative and strategic actions.

b. Tropicália was a musical style that incorporated electrical guitars in Brazilian popular music of African origin.

c. Bossa Nova is a style of music that incorporated soul and jazz to samba.

d. Institutional Acts were decrees emitted during the years after the 1964 military coup d'état, in Brazil. They were used as legitimate and legal mechanisms for military political actions, establishing several extra-constitutional powers for the armed forces. In fact, the Institutional Acts were mechanisms used to maintain military dominance within legality. Without this mechanism, the Constitution of 1946 would make the military regime unviable, thus the need to substitute it for ordered decrees. From 1964 to 1969, 17 institutional acts regulated by 104 complementary acts were decreed.

e. First President to be chosen by the Military Electoral College.

f. UDN (National Democratic Union). Right wing party that supported the military coup in 1964. They believed that the army would quickly call for new elections, a fact that took 24 years to occur.

g. The second president to be chosen by the Military Electoral College. His mandate was interrupted by a serious ailment which resulted in his demise. His successor was General Emílio Garrastazu Médici, also chosen by the Military Electoral College.

h. The decision to revoke the Institutional Act, was considered by the authors of this work to be one of the first concrete actions that led to the political opening, finalized by the declaration of the 1988 constitution.

i. Brazil has continental dimensions; therefore, this economic growth and development of the middle class did not occur in a linear manner, this text especially prioritizes the events and facts of the places with larger industrial development: the Southeast and South of Brazil.

j. According to Carlos Amorim39, author of "Comando vermelho: a história secreta do crime organizado", (Red Command: the story of organized crime), the contact of common prisoners with the political ones was vital for the setting up of criminal organizations. At the time of the National Security Law, there was the founding of two important organized crime factions: the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) and the Falange Vermelha (Red Phalanx).

k. Gil is active in politics as one of the founders of the Partido Verde (PV - Green Party), and was the Minister of Culture during President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva's government.

l. This New State was established by Getúlio Dornelles Vargas from 1937 to 1945, the creation of this strong government was to deter the advance of the communists left and the fascists right .

m. Spontaneous manifestation forms that valued popular culture and construction of plays with elements of folklore.

n. Political moment in Brazil when there was the greatest repression and military violence.

o. The musical style that incorporates the sound of the Beatles.

p. Festivals are competitions with famous musicians; auditorium programs are known due to their audience in the program and Novice festivals are contests that look for new talents in music.

q. The "Sports For All" movement (EPT), initiated in Norway and expanded throughout the world, proposes the transition between the formal sport and the non formal. That is, the transition between the formal practice of sport - such as the Olympic Games, the sport show - and the recreation of people in their moments of leisure.

Sport For All, at a national as well as an international level, has frequently been linked to the non-formality characteristic activities of leisure, that at the same time, inter-relate and differ from the sport show, while being a form of social-cultural conduct.

"Sports For All" has been receiving, throughout history, a great variety of denominations. For instance: TRIM (Norway, Denmark and Holland), TRIMMY (Germany and Iceland), CONTAMOS CONTIGO (Spain), PARTICIP-ACTION (Canada), FIT-AKTION (Austria), SPORT POUR TOUS (France), DEPORT POR TODOS or DEPORT PARA TODOS (Chile, Argentina, as well as great part of the South American Countries), LIFE.BE IN IT (Australia), PHYSICAL FITNESS AN SPORTS (United States), and ESPORTES PARA TODOS (Portugal, Brazil and other Countries of Portuguese language), among others. All those denominations identify it as a transition element among official, competitive and high performance practices - characteristic of show sports - and recreation - sporting or not - of people in their specific times of leisure.

r. In this section we tried to connect some issues of neoliberalism in public policy at the end of military rule. The impression is that the technological advance creates a kind of firework that hides a background situation much more simple and ancient: the privatization and commodification of leisure. To examine the subject, we suggest: "O lazer no Brasil: de Getulio Vargas à globalização. São Paulo: Phorte; 2011"40.



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Marco A. B. Almeida
R. Conde Prates, 301
03122-000 - São Paulo - SP - BRASIL

Recebido para publicação: 03/08/2011
1a. Revisão: 12/01/12
2a. Revisão: 27/03/2012
Aceito: 31/07/2012

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