Tarlau, R. 2013. Coproducing rural public schools in Brazil: Contestation, clientelism, and the landless workers’ movement. Politics & Society 41(3): 395-424.
The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) has been the principal protagonist
developing an alternative educational proposal for rural public schools in Brazil.
This article analyzes the MST’s differential success implementing this proposal
in municipal and state public schools. The process is both participatory—activists
working with government officials to implement MST goals—and contentious—the
movement mobilizing support for its education initiatives through various forms of
protest. In some locations, the MST has succeeded in institutionalizing a participatory
relationship with government actors, while in other regions the MST has a more
limited presence in the schools or has been completely banned from participating.
Drawing on the concept of coproduction—the active participation of civil society
actors in the provision of public goods—the author argues that coproduction is a
joint product of high levels of social mobilization and government orientation. The
former is necessary in all cases, while the latter can take the form of either a leftleaning
or clientelistic government.