Knowledge and Power of the Civil Society: an empirical study of Brazilian professionals working in the NGOs

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Júnia Fátima do Carmo Guerra
Armindo dos Santos de Sousa Teodosio
Walter Mswaka


This study critically analyses the way Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operate in Brazil and their contribution to the development of the Brazilian civil society. The notion of "power fields" and "habitus", proposed by Bourdieu (1989; 1996), provides the theoretical backdrop to our discussions. This focusses largely on the recursive connection between structure and agency which resonates with the work of Fligstein (2006). This study seeks to critically analyse the learning and social practice developed by professionals in NGOs in their daily activities. This study is based on qualitative research and the results indicated that the knowledge produced by Brazilian NGOs, through the recursive connection between the agents of the fields and the structures underpinning them, contributes to the expansion and transformation of the field in which they operate. This perspective shows that the knowledge generated by this NGOs give them a certain level of power and influence in the Brazilian civil society.

Article Details

Articles (refereed)
Author Biographies

Júnia Fátima do Carmo Guerra, Postgraduate Program in Management, Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais

PhD candidate of Postgraduate Program in Management of Pontifical Catholic of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas) / Brazil, MA in Social Managment, Education and Local Development and Bachelor in Media Professional.

Armindo dos Santos de Sousa Teodosio, Postgraduate Program in Management / Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais

Associate Professor, Postgraduate Program in Management, Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Postdoc Fellow in Environmental Sciences / University of São Paulo (USP) / Brazil;

PhD in Management / Getúlio Vargas Foundation / São Paulo / Brazil;

MA Sociology / Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais / Brazil;

Bachelor in Economics / Federal University of Minas Gerais / Brazil.

Walter Mswaka, University of Huddersfield

Associate Professor, Department of Strategy, Marketing and Economics, University of Huddersfield / UK

Walter’s background is therefore in business creation and development. He has extensive experience of offering business advisory and technical support to Small to Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and Social Enterprises, in both public and private sectors. This also includes delivering a variety of externally funded projects and development interventions. These were mainly focused at assisting individuals within deprived communities to take charge of their lives through enterprise. This included assisting them to develop and understand their business models as well as facilitating further enterprise development through an extensive network of local support agencies and networks. His experience in this arena extends well beyond the UK having also provided business advice and support services in Zimbabwe.


  • 2011: University of Huddersfield – PhD (Social Enterprise Legal Structures)
  • 2008: University of Huddersfield – PCPD
  • 1993: University of Zimbabwe – BBS(Hons)