This paper addresses the role of popular movements in the consolidation of democracy in Brazil in the context of traditional clientelism. The author stresses the need to change the political culture and create space for the assertion of full citizenship rights. She examines the process of negoti-ation among the movements, political parties, and the state apparatus, and the conflicts that arise, with the aim of reaching an understanding of how new sociopolitical identities are forged. In order to survive, community groups must both act pragmatically, making use of their most effective contacts, and at the same time adopt an ideological stance that affirms their autonomy. Moreover, while the groups all emerged from a common experience of exclusion, there is considerable diversity in both their negotiating strategies and their specific objectives. Despite these tensions, the author concludes that when space for participation opens, changes in the balance of power do occur and a degree of popular autonomy becomes possible. Without corresponding insti-tutional changes, however, the changes occur haphazardly and the autonomy gained remains vulnerable and precarious.
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