Social Justice, Philanthropy and Ecology: The Symbolical Legacy of Brazilian's NGOs

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:45 PM
Room: 304
Distributed Paper
Fernando LIMA NETO , Social Sciences, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This work seeks to analyze the longstanding symbolical legacy that frames Non Governmental Organizations’ experience in Brazil. The main objective is to identify the social values which give sense to the very notion of NGO by analyzing its variations of meaning throughout history. Firstly, I present a macro sociological approach in order to deal with the emergence of the NGO field in Brazil. The connexions between church, state and society for the promotion of social welfare generated the three major social values that confer meaning to the NGOs’ experience: social justice, philanthropy and ecology. The first two have a common historical origin, the organizations of lay Catholics which were present in the context of promoting social welfare in Brazil since the colonial period. In turn, the consecration of the value of ecology concerns a different context, dating mainly from the decades of 1990 and 2000. I also build on a micro sociological approach in order to interpret these values in the light of the individual trajectory of Herbert de Souza, known as Betinho, the major actor in the formation of these institutions. Betinho’s biography presents individual frames to the macro-historical process of transformation of the value of Christian charity into those of social justice and philanthropy. The research results indicate the social values of social justice, philanthropy and ecology as the main cultural codes that give meaning to the contemporary phenomenon of NGOs in Brazil.