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Manuscript deadline
30 September 2020

Cover image - Contemporary Social Science

Contemporary Social Science

Special Issue Editor(s)

Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos, University of Oxford
[email protected]

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The prism of Brazil: Informal Practices in Politics and Society

In many countries, a layer of informality underlies economic, judicial, and political relationships, opening space for nepotism, prejudices, and partialities. Political decisions can influence this situation to the better or worse. In Brazil, the recent economic crisis (2015-ongoing) created a system where formal employment positions faded away. Among the employed, informality also exists, and new labour laws passed in 2017 created more space for employer-employee negotiations on salaries and benefits. COVID-19 acted as a catalyst making informality in Brazil, already on the rise, gain visibility. Informality gained faces and numbers when the media reported the large numbers of people queuing to claim access to government benefits during the pandemic. At the same time, millions of others did not have access to a mobile phone, identity card, or bank account to receive the same benefit. Informality met with a health crisis, prompting a discussion about historical informal practices in the country, it’s devastating consequences, and its gendered nuances. However, informality is also in the corridors of power and the privilege of skipping technical rigour and bureaucratic processes is also part of our discussion. The recent political crisis playing out in Brazil (since 2016, the year of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment) drew, on one hand, more attention to laws and regulations and the need to improve institutions when representative politics and the functioning of the state were strongly questioned. On the other hand, this evolving political crisis also made family and religious principles, previously considered off-the-record connections, an open response to bureaucratic disappointments. Informality is becoming more important to understand economic and political relationships both among the poor and the elite, as well as public health and the vulnerability of individuals.


This special issue responds to an urgent need to analyse and discuss the practices of informality in Brazil (1). Informal practices in Brazil have a strong gender dimension, and this series will discuss unequal divisions of labour in the public and domestic realms (2). This special issue will be interdisciplinary, exploring how politics, crime, violence, economics and other factors in the recent history of Brazil affect informality (3). In addressing informal practices in Brazil, this series also discusses not only exclusion but also cases when informality is a choice and a privilege (4). This series blurs the boundaries between political and technical and discusses the consequences of informal practices in Brazilian bureaucracy and for democracy (5). Though focussed on Brazil, this series has an international dimension and papers will discuss role of Brazil in the world and how the country’s current health and political crises impact on south-south cooperation and democracy (6). Finally, this series offers a great methodological contribution when studying state absence, authors will address new methods to study practices often invisible (7).

Cases and themes:

Manuscripts should address and offer findings on one or more of the following themes, issues, and questions that relate to informal practices in Brazil and how those connect with other places in the globe. We welcome manuscripts that include photos (at least 300 dpi) of art. The following list of themes is suggestive only:

  • Political and technical informal practices in Brazil
  • Informal mechanisms of justice and arbitration in criminal organisations
  • Informal economy and practices to get by in Brazil
  • COVID-19 and how it exposes informality and precariousness in Brazil
  • Exclusion from banking systems (credit, bank account, and social benefits)
  • Research methods to discuss informality and how to study, analyse, and measure state absence
  • Precariousness and gender inequality – structural distributions of informality
  • Public and domestic dimensions of informality
  • Informal politics and pathways for political representation
  • Informal political practices, revisiting clientelism in Brazil
  • Elite power (informality as privilege) and militancy (informality as resistance)
  • Rights and claims by indigenous groups in Brazil

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Submission Instructions


Guest Editor Dr Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos, University of Oxford, welcomes submissions now.

For full instructions on submitting to the journal please see the Instructions for Authors' page.

Authors should indicate that they wish the manuscript to be reviewed for inclusion in the special issue. The Editor of this issue would be happy to review plans for papers in advance of their receipt. All papers will be peer reviewed.

The closing date for submitting papers is September 30th 2020.

Manuscripts should follow the journal instructions for online submission of papers. For any queries contact:

[email protected]

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article