This paper assesses how a change in governmental discourse on poverty after Brazil's return to democracy in 1985 was instrumental to the implementation of the first federal cash-transfer program in Brazilian history, Bolsa Escola 2001. It argues that the end of the military dictatorship prompted the political elite to be responsive to calls for greater civic engagement from marginalized sectors of the Brazilian society that had awakened during the democratic transition, thus demanding that these actors address poverty in novel forms. Rather than reducing the implementation of cash-transfer programs to a top-down policy that came to fruition as a cognitive change within the federal government, this article maintains that the shifting social, economic, and political settings brought about by the end of the authoritarian regime played an important part in the debates addressing poverty in Brazilian society, and, as a consequence, were conducive to the idea of giving money to the poor.


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pp. 187-206
Launched on MUSE
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