Think Tanks in Transition: An Analysis of Scientific Development of Cebrap in the 80s and 90s

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Fernanda SILVA, Universidade Federal de Itajuba, Brazil
Founded on 1969, the CEBRAP (Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning) is one of the 45 think tanks better evaluated in Latin and Central America (14th place, according to 2013’s Global Go To Think Thanks Rankings). This paper investigates how the CEBRAP transformed and reformulated itself in the late twentieth century (more precisely in the 80 and 90 decades) considering the political, economic, social and scientific changes experienced by Brazil. When founded, the main purpose of CEBRAP was to undertake research activities in order to support social scientists and professionals with different backgrounds, so they could carry out their research projects, interrupted by the military regime. In this sense, "intellectual pluralism, lack of commitments to specific groups or organizations, thematic indeterminacy" was its distinctive trademark.

However, the democratization in the 80s generated new pressures: the advent of democracy meant not only the end of the internal consensus and the exit of several members from CEBRAP, but also the emergence of new questions and the change of Brazilian social sciences profile, with new theoretical references and an increasing specialization.

Assuming that the goal of a think tank is to produce knowledge and to undertake research in order to influence public policy, this paper investigates if the research products of CEBRAP changed in the same direction of Brazilian social sciences (empiricism, increasing specialization, the abandon of macro explanations) and if this has impacted on CEBRAP's ability to influence policymaking and to dialogue with the governments; in short, to act as a think tank. For this, we analyzed the CEBRAP’s reports activity from 1980 to 2000 and the main articles published by its members in Novos Estudos CEBRAP journal (institute’s official journal published since 1981).