Anti-poverty Programs and Vote-Buying Strategies

Lessons from Northeast Brazil
Part of the Political Corruption and Governance book series (PCG)


In a context where personal relations play a central role in structuring political life, to what extent should a researcher differentiate “normal” from “deviant” political behavior? This chapter addresses this question from a socio-anthropological point of view, analyzing the use of anti-poverty programs for vote-buying purposes in Northeast Brazil. More specifically, the objective of this chapter is to describe the mobilization of a political machine directly involving anti-poverty programs during election times. The aim here is to describe the dynamics of vote buying in Northeast Brazil, especially through the cooptation of social workers and the use of their formal attributions to increase vote-buying effectiveness among the poorest.



This chapter originates from the PhD thesis in sociology, defended by the author at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS-Paris) in March 2017 (available at I would like to thank Serge Paugam, Marcel Bursztyn, Laurent Henry and Carolina Milhorance for their helpful and valuable comments on former versions of this article. The research counted on the support of the following institutions: CAPES Foundation, Brazilian Education Ministry (PhD scholarship process number 99999.001728/2013-00); and European Research Council under Grant 679614 (BROKERS).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Radboud UniversityNijmegenNetherlands

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