During the 1980s and 1990s, Brazil struggled to rebuild its democracy after twenty years of military dictatorship, experiencing financial crises, corruption scandals, political protest, and intense electoral contention. In the midst of this turmoil, Ann Mische argues in this remarkable book, youth activists of various stripes played a vital and unrecognized role, contributing new forms of political talk and action to Brazil's emerging democracy.
Drawing upon extensive and rich ethnography as well as formal network analysis, Mische tracks the lives of young activists through intersecting political networks, including student movements, church-based activism, political parties, nongovernmental organizations, and business and professional organizations. She probes the problems and possibilities they encountered in combining partisan activism with other kinds of civic involvement. In documenting activists' struggles to develop cross-partisan publics of various kinds, Mische explores the distinct styles of communication and leadership that emerged across organizations and among individuals.
Drawing on the ideas of Habermas, Gramsci, Dewey, and Machiavelli, Partisan Publics highlights political communication styles and the forms of mediation and leadership they give rise to--for democratic politics in Brazil and elsewhere. Insightful in its discussion of culture, methodology, and theory, Partisan Publics argues that partisanship can play a significant role in civic life, helping to build relations and institutions in an emerging democracy.