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Brazil Exporting Social Policies: From local Innovation to a Global Model

  • K3.11, Strand Campus Strand London, England United Kingdom (map)

The Brazil Institute invites you to a lecture by Dr. Osmany Porto.


Foreign models import is part of Brazilian institution building story, owing to the Portuguese colonialism, the presence of European countries and the dominance of the United States until the past century. After the transition to democracy and the New Constriction of 1988, the scenario started to change. From this moment on the country developed important social policy innovations that gained national scale when the Workers Party (PT) took office. These innovations started to spread globally and international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations began to recommend Brazilian social policies to developing countries. As examples of the “Brazilian way of social policy-making” are Participatory Budgeting (PB), Family Allowance Program (PBF) and the National School Feeding Program (PNAE) that have been transferred to different countries. How Brazil moved from importing foreign institutions to a reference on social policies to Southern countries? The main argument of this article is that Brazil – while building itself as a rising power in the past two decades – developed new patterns of policy transfers, that have been before overlooked by the literature. By analyzing the engagement of the country on international diffusion of social policies, it was possible to identify different mechanisms facilitating transfers. These involve a quest for international legitimacy, the role of “policy ambassadors”, the joint of different national institutions, the reversal of relations with international organizations, the occupation of international positions in institutions and policy transfer costs. This presentation will shows the results of a research developed with qualitative methods, that gathered data from fieldwork that accumulated 150 interviews, participant observation in more than ten countries and a set of official documents.



Osmany Porto de Oliveira is a professor of International Relations at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp). He holds two PhDs in Political Science. He received his PhD from the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III (2015), with the highest distinction "very honourable distinction, with unanimous congratulations from the jury", and a PhD from the University of São Paulo, in which the jury highlighted the “intense engagement on fieldwork in his thesis” (2013). He received his B.A in International Relations from the University of Bologne in Italy in 2006 and a M.A in Latin American Studies from the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle/IHEAL in France in 2008. He won the award of best young researcher at the CEISAL Congress at the University of Porto in Portugal (2013). He is author of “International Policy Diffusion and Participatory Budgeting: Ambassadors of Participation, International Institutions and Transnational Networks”, Palgrave McMillan (2017) and "Le transfert d'un modèle de démocratie participative: Paradiplomatie entre Porto Alegre et Saint-Denis" (2010), Éditions IHEAL/CREDA.


This talk, part of the King's Brazil Institute Research Seminar Series, will be followed by a Q&A and wine.