Social Dialogue Magazine
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Demonstration in Sao Paulo against corruption and the Dilma government March 2016
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Maria Alexandra Monteiro Mustafá Universidade Federal de Pernambuco – UFPE

The "popular erudition" as a strategy of the social work for the facing of ideology and the "international rightist" in Brazil and in the world

This article aims to present a theoretical-methodological and ethical proposal that can respond to the challenges imposed today on the Social Work profession at national and international level, understood as “Popular Erudition”. This proposal is based on the understanding that the ideology, expressed in the form of religion and fascist practices, is the main weapon used by the “Rightist International” for its action of dismantling of the social and human rights in all countries of the world. The article also presents the trajectory of our professional practice, especially in the context of professional development, that has been concentrating since the nineties, in the creation and strengthen of forms of international articulation, highlighting the Interchange Movement between the Brazilian and the Italian Social Work; and from 2017, in the theoretical and practical combat to ideology, especially in the context of ethical reflection; and finally our IASSW/AIETS participation proposal.


Brazil acquired a condition of “State of Rights” after a period of twenty years of military dictatorship, with the 1988 Constitution, legally ensured political and civil rights and many social and human rights. Even if the governments that followed immediately would have tried, because of its still conservative position, to deny these rights, social policies were gradually being affirmed to implement them since the constitutional order required this implementation, and the left forces, associated with those of the working class and the Social Work itself (especially from the elaboration of LOAS - Organic Law of Social Assistance) tried to put into practice what had been achieved in the process of re-democratization.

1. The “Rightist International” and the dismantling of the rights

The governments of Lula and Dilma Rousseff - representatives of the Worker’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), from the first decade of the twentieth century onwards, expanded this path of social policy making and focused on the process of reducing social inequalities and confrontation poverty, in order to eradicate extreme poverty. In the same vein, programs were created to repay the debt that Brazilian society has historically had with the population of black people by instituting the quota program in the field of higher education and affirmative action. In this sense, the direction given by these governments allowed the expansion of access to social rights in the areas of health, education, housing, social assistance that covered the various generations since childhood, youth and the elderly, with the creation of the Elderly Statute in 2003.

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Demonstration supporting the carwash operation (lavajato) in São Paulo 4 december 2016

The advance of social rights provoked a discontent among the national bourgeoisie which, in articulation with the “Rightist International” (which was already promoting a dismantling of social rights in countries where the welfare state was established, and the disassemble of socialism in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union), started to build the same process of decommissioning here in Brazil. It is within this perspective that a work of a markedly ideological nature has been triggered, especially using the media (television, writing, electronic and virtual, also using the Fake News), to deconstruct the image of the Worker’s Party and its main leadership, which led to the impeachment of President Dilma in 2016 and the arrest of ex-President Lula (2018).

The instrument par excellence of this work of the left image deconstruction and rights conquered, was aired especially from the actions of "Lava-jet operation" which brings together representatives of the judiciary reportedly made right. The conduct of this process was responsible for the election of the President Jair Bolsonaro (2018) who publicly took from the campaign, a contrary stance to social and human rights, with the ideological support a fascist speech, false moralist and anchored in religion and Protestant stand which, for a few decades, was articulated both at the grassroots of society - especially in the slums - and at the legislature with its conservative tendencies. In this sense, Brazil currently has the three powers - executive, legislative and judiciary - fully controlled by representatives of the right who act daily to defend the interests of the national and especially international bourgeoisie, to the detriment of national interests and the working class.

The measures taken in this direction is presented on the first day of term with the approval of bearing arms of the law by the population, triggering a climate of violence, announcing what was and still is to come towards the materialization of the fascist tendency, focused particularly against “blacks”, “poor”, “communists” and “gays”: in a blatantly racist, classist, homophobic and unscientific campaign. Such a campaign, beyond its immediate goals of dismantling of all social policies, has, as its objective, the ideologization of Brazilian society to destroy its potential for struggle and its progress in the process of social transformation and building a society truly emancipated.

The synthesis of our scenario analysis therefore indicates that the main enemy of the working class, at the present time is the "International Rightist" and its ideological and mass alienation weapons.

2. “Popular Erudition” and Social Work

It is precisely in this sense that we are developing a work of “deideologization” of the population and of building a process of “Popular Erudition” that equips users and professional category to defend this media attack, unveiling the theoretical and practical meaning of ideology and elaborating pedagogical alternatives of intellectual formation of the bases that imply the knowledge of the historical determinations of domination to overcome it and establish a real situation of social and human emancipation at all levels of social relations and that represents a scientific advance in the intellectual, social, ethical and economic level. Thus, since 2017, even before the Bolsonaro presidential elections, we have concentrated our actions in the field of professional education, research, knowledge production and action with the representative entities of the professional category, at local level, regional, national and international.

Within the scope of Education Professional and, in articulation with entities representing the professional category, we have developed:

- Course “Ethic, Ideology and Media: Conservatism and Reactionaryism in Society and Social Work” (2017 - Fortaleza / CE and 2018 - Recife / PE), with the support / effective participation of Postgraduate and Graduate, CRESS's (Regional Councils of Social Work) and of the professional category, with the purpose of offering training subsidies for understanding the meaning of ideology and its forms of expression, mechanisms used for its diffusion, both nationally and internationally.

- Articulation of the content of the subjects taught under the undergraduate and postgraduate (Professional Ethic, Social Gerontology, Frameworks of Social Theory and Social Issues) with research activities and meetings to socialize the results of these research with the professional category, students, teachers and users. In this regard, we highlight our role as coordinator of the Group of Studies and Research on Ethics - GEPE, which has promoted the Meetings “Ethics and Gerontology” (2018 and 2019), the Course on the “Code of Ethics of the Social Worker - 1993 and the research “Structural Inequality, Inequalities and Human Rights in the World ”.

-The “Ethic and Gerontology” Meetings have taken place in order to construct a new vision on aging, understood as the synthesis phase of life, with a potential for maturity and understanding of the Social Being, in its breadth and its meaning in the process of existence and ability to carry out projects. Thus, "aging is seen as a privilege and all conditions must be given for it to be experienced as such" (MUSTAFÁ, 2019). This new assumption fights head-on against the ideological interpretation that supports capitalism that aging is a "threat" to the development and economy of countries, an argument that serves as the main justification for Pension Reform.

The Course on the Code of Ethic (2019) aims to propose a reflection on the principles and norms of the 1993 social worker code and the theoretical- methodological foundations of the profession (its theoretical frameworks), in order to contribute to the understanding of the historical construction of knowledge in the social sciences, from the perspective of developing a pedagogical instrument in the context of “Popular Erudition”. It also aims to provide the professional category with subsidies to reflect on the potentialities of professional practice, from the identification of the need to adapt the theoretical- methodological and ethical contribution of the profession to the conjuncture challenges. This initiative stems from the understanding that professional practice after 1993 Code was particularly directed to institutional practice, to implement social policies (as discussed above), participation in the spaces created in councils and forums that act under the State's tutelage (which are strongly attacked at the current juncture) for the management of social policies themselves. It emerges from this finding, the reflection of the need to rescue the practice of working with the grassroots, users, communities and the strengthening of social movements in a perspective that works popular education for conscientization and organization, but transcends this dimension with contribution of the “Popular Erudition”, capable of subsidizing from the theoretical, scientific and practical point of view, the action of the social worker and the population itself.

Our role in the Internationalization of Social Work dates from the nineties, when Alexandra Mustafá did your PhD studies, when Lucio Mustafá studied in Classical Letters at the Salesian University of Rome (between 1994 and 1999, at the time we created the Cultural Movement for the Interchange between Brazilian and Italian Social Work. This movement currently has the active participation of important Brazilian universities (besides UFPE [Federal University of Pernambuco], the universities: UFES - [Federal University of Espírito Santo - with Professor Salyanna Souza] and UERN - [State University of Rio Grande do Norte - with Prof. Gisele Anselmo]. In addition, the movement entertains good academic activities with the following Italian universities: Roma TRE (with the Professors Roberto Cipriani and Claudio Tognonato); Milano Bicocca (with the Professor Annamaria Campanini) and Ca'Foscari di Venezia (with Professor Fabio Perocco).

The exchange with Italy aims at deepening knowledge about Social Work in both countries and it aims to create joint alternatives to confront the national and international conjuncture. To this end, we created the notion of “Popular Erudition” in order to strengthen the exchange at the level of graduate and postgraduate degree in Social Work, based on joint research and the elaboration and dissemination of the intellectual production of Italian and Brazilian intellectuals, either in existing communication vehicles or in the consolidation and creation of new communication vehicles, such as the GEPE Notebooks (Cadernos GEPE). In the first and last instance, it is about filling the gap, already identified by Paulo Netto in Dictatory and Social Work (Ditadura e Serviço Social): it is about “unclogging the communicative channels between the intellectuality and the Brazilian culture and the world culture”, obstruction that created by the military dictatory and updated by the “Rightist International, personified in Brazil by the Bolsonaro government. It was the creation, and the theoretical maturation achieved in these years of Interchange, to foster the understanding of the need for an expansion of this action, now proposed at the level of participation in the Board of IASSW / AIETS.

It is in this context that we are conducting the Project of the Binational Training Course for Brazilian and Italian Social Workers, which is underway involving all participants of the aforementioned Movement for Interchange and which will have its implementation phase more properly in this second half 2019. And it is in this same direction that we propose to compose the direction of the International Association of Schools of Social Work - IASSW / AIETS, understanding that the Brazilian Social Work, especially at the level of formation, cannot be absent from this space, as that if this entity can strengthen us, we also have much to contribute to our capacity for reflection / analysis / creation of alternatives to respond to the challenges of the conjuncture, whose global determinations were listed above and presented as the action of a Right that is above of everything “International”.


MUSTAFÁ, Alexandra. Ética e Gerontologia: o significado filosófico do ‘massacre’ neoliberal à pessoa idosa. In: Cadernos GEPE. Recife: GEPE, 2019.
NETTO, José Paulo. Ditadura e Serviço Social: Uma análise do Serviço Social no Brasil pós-64. 6a ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2002.