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Children's Participation in Brazil – A Brief Genealogy and Recent Innovations

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image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

This paper provides an overview of significant developments in Brazil in regard to children and young people's rights and participation in the public sphere. The paper addresses the importance of historically contextualizing particular practices and policies towards children and young people, in order to understand present manifestations of their "participation". Outlining the Brazilian context of deep inequality, the paper reflects how different childhoods, that of the rich and of the poor, have been differently categorised and acted upon. The paper goes on to give an account of the important movements of mass participation that emerged through the 1970s, in particular those concerning Popular Education, that sought to dismantle repressive institutions and relationships within the country, including those towards the children of the poorest sectors of the population. Important here is the influence of Brazilian pedagogue and activist Paulo Freire, whose ideas around 'conscientization' and their subsequent impact on participatory practices with children and young people are also addressed. The paper concludes with a brief overview of recent research on the multiple spaces of participation young people are engaged in, offering some possible avenues for future research.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford


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