Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

The Three Achilles' Heels of Brazilian Political Science*

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

The Three Achilles' Heels of Brazilian Political Science*

Article excerpt

The origin and formation of the social sciences in Brazil has been the object of deep and rigorous investigations that have brought to light the conditions that marked the work of the founding fathers of social and political thought in Brazil. In this regard, Miceli (1995) emphasises the importance of the creation of academic institutions in São Paulo for the autonomy of the pioneering generations of social scientists, in contrast with the smaller differentiation between social scientists and the political elites of Brazil's other states. Forjaz (1997) highlights the role played in the genesis of Political Science in Brazil by a generation established in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. Trindade (2007; 2012) renders this scenario more complex with his more nuanced diagnosis, revealing the great regional diversity in the processes of formation of the social sciences in Brazil, as well as the importance that international circulation had for professionalising researchers and for the constitution of groups geared towards academic research in different institutional and regional contexts. In addition, Lamounier (1982) identifies the two bases that constituted Political Science in Brazil: a tradition of political thought forged between the 1920s and 1960s and the professionalisation that came as a result of the expansion of the academic system in the 1960s and 1970s.

The aim of this article is not to revisit the founding elements of the social sciences in Brazil - a process that has been well documented and analytically unravelled -, but to explore its inflexion, starting from its gradual institutionalisation, particularly after the end of the 1960s. Our intention is to isolate the main expression of this process of institutionalisation - the expansion of the postgraduate system, which brought research and scientific reflection into institutions focused on training masters and doctors and strongly oriented by an assessment model based on peer judgement and the rating of scientific production. The focus here is on Political Science in comparison with its neighbouring disciplines, Sociology and Anthropology. We attempt to consider the timing of the process of academic institutionalisation of Political Science, as well as its consequences for the consolidation of the field nowadays. In the first section, we attempt to retrace the sequence of institutionalisation in the three fields based on an examination of how PhD courses and the training of doctors in Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology were formed. In the second section, we map the Political Science postgraduate programmes - considering the areas and thematic lines present in institutions currently in existence -, as a procedure for assessing their concentration (or diversity) and expansion, as well as the consolidation of a model for evaluating scientific production. Lastly, the text deals with the international impact of the scientific production by the Brazilian Political Science community. The information on the postgraduate programmes was extracted from the database of the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Capes - Brazilian Federal Agency for the Improvement of Higher Education)1, which, in its turn, is updated every year by the Capes Report, containing information presented by the programmes on their activities during that period. Any discrepancies between the information made available by Capes, the postgraduate programmes and those published in the Lattes Platform (CV database) are attributable to the information provided by the programmes. In order to maintain standardisation, unless otherwise stated, the data from Capes were utilised - the same ones that are used for assessing Brazil's postgraduate system.

The institutionalisation of Political Science in Brazil: slow but sure

To Bulcourf and Vasquez (2004), the institutionalisation of an academic discipline is identified when it differentiates itself from other fields and academic disciplines, producing its own professional skills. …

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