A critical analysis of urban and housing policy framing in a bureaucratic authoritarian state: The case of Brazil

Nilton Ricoy Torres, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation deals with the urban and housing policy formation in Brazil from a historical and dialogical perspective. The Brazilian bureaucratic-authoritarian experience from 1964 to 1985 is the context of inquiry, and the rhetorical processes by which the urban and housing policy was framed the object of investigation. This investigation is based on discourse analyzes. It focuses on planner's narratives and review the housing policy formation history by extracting meaning from actors, actions, and decisions. As a pragmatic reconstruction of history this inquiry evaluates meaning in the context of action. In this dissertation planning is the action, and the bureaucratic setting of planning, the context. The major objective is to access and analyze critically the extent to which planning is product of discoursive practices. It argues that deliberation on appropriate planning alternativesis often object of manipulative discourse, as attempts at inflicting particular views on the courses to be taken acts to distort communication in planning settings. As a technical-rational form of argumentation planning may be a strategic discourse directed to blur understanding and manage consent of constituents: alternatives solutions are hindered, and the only "best" solution is introduced by the force of expertise. Bureaucracies, as instances of management and control are considered environments of technical rationality. This dissertation deals with them as both locus and ethos of skewed reasoning--the antithesis of democracy and communicative reasoning. The empirical investigation concentrates on a particular bureaucratic agency in Brazil: the National Housing Bank. It focuses the various ways policy was formulated and accentuate the interests involved. Exploring the arguments bureaucrats advanced to justify policy decisions, this dissertation points to the anti-dialogical and selective process policies were framed and implemented. Focusing on a particular historical experience, this dissertation seeks to relate concepts of political economy (power and bureaucracy) to those of critical philosophy (rationality and pragmatics of communication), aiming to bring some reference to the debate on the prospects of planning contribution for society's emancipation.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Social research|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Torres, Nilton Ricoy, "A critical analysis of urban and housing policy framing in a bureaucratic authoritarian state: The case of Brazil" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9816400.