The politics of habitus: Publics, blackness, and community activism in Salvador, Brazil

Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Lisa Corrado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how politics is experienced by actors who mediate neighborhood organizations and formal political institutions in the Northeastern city of Salvador da Bahia, in Brazil. It is based on a series of ethnographic interviews in 2004 among identified community leaders in the city's poorer neighborhoods, with attention to their politics of habitus-their socially-situated modes of expression of political proclivities. While all of our informants identified themselves as Black and identified racial structures as shaping their lives, their understandings and evaluations of formal politics were divided. Those who only mediated between the neighborhood and formal institutions were critical of the world of politics and its polluting influence. Those who were also involved in mediating publics tended to experience formal politics as unjust but ultimately accessible through legitimate Black political action. This distinction helps account for the difficulty in mobilizing around a reformist political project and adds a local and political dimension to the understanding of race relations in Brazil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-388
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Brazil
  • Brokers
  • Civil society
  • Race relations
  • Social movement
  • Social participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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