Collective Action and Radicalism in Brazil: Women, Urban Housing and Rural Movements


217 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-3907-3
DDC 981.06




Reviewed by J.H. Galloway

J.H. Galloway is a professor of geography at the University of Toronto
and the author of The Sugar Cane Industry.


This book deals with Brazilian politics from the end of an era of
military dictators (1984) to Luis Ignбcio da Silva’s election to the
presidency in 2002. Da Silva, better known as “Lula,” was born into
poverty in the northeast of Brazil, found work in Sгo Paulo as a young
man, and subsequently became leader of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores
or Workers’ Party).

In the book’s introduction and in Chapter 1, Michel Duquette argues
that in the wake of Brazil’s return to democracy, reform-minded
politicians have made too many compromises. As a result, the standard of
living for Brazil’s poor is little improved. Duquette presents this
thesis along with an overview of Brazilian politics since the time of
Vargas. The three case studies that follow—Marques-Perreira and Raes
on women’s movements, Levy on the housing movement in Sгo Paulo, and
Galdino on the return of radicalism to the countryside—illustrate the
thesis established by Duquette. The final chapter, titled “Collective
Action at the Crossroads: The Empowerment of the Left,” picks up
themes from the first chapter and assesses the prospects of the Lula
government; the final paragraph predicts dire consequences should he

One does not have to be a man of the left like Lula to recognize the
social injustices that exist in Brazilian society, but it is possible to
disagree about their causes and solutions. The authors of this book give
the impression of knowing both causes and solutions, and of being
impatient with political compromise. They wrote before they could assess
Lula’s first term as president, and he has recently been elected to a
second term. How would they assess his accomplishments today?


Duquette, Michel, et al., “Collective Action and Radicalism in Brazil: Women, Urban Housing and Rural Movements,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,