The Media, the International Public Sphere, and the Killing of Street Children in Brazil

Serra, Sonia de Alencar. 1999. The Media, the International Public Sphere, and the Killing of Street Children in Brazil. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

From the mid 1980s, killings of poor youths by the police and death squads escalated in Brazil. Nevertheless, these did not provoke public outrage, as protests against the murders were silenced by primary definitions, provided mainly by the police and the courts. These justified the killings by emphasizing the criminal behaviour of the youths. They were in tum reproduced by the press, which drew on cultural and social prejudices against 'street children'.

With the transition to democracy in 1985, the national movement of street children was organized with the support of UNICEF and the Catholic Church. The movement campaigned against the killings, and also for changes in policies - something that was deeply opposed by law and order sectors. In the early 1990s, the 'killing of street children' in Brazil became a prominent issue both nationally and internationally, particularly following Amnesty International's sponsorship of the campaign. As a result, a new statute reflecting the proposals of the movement was enacted, and a Commission of Inquiry was set up in Congress to investigate the killings.

This thesis examines the media in relation to the development of this campaign. It analyses how the killing of street children and the moves to protect them were reported in the Brazilian press. It considers what influenced this reporting, and what resulted from this. In particular, it seeks to document how a campaign initiated in Brazil was taken up by the international media and how this, in turn, influenced Brazilian politics. In short, it seeks to shed new light on the emergence of the international public sphere, a subject widely discussed but little investigated.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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media, public sphere, Brazil, children, killing



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Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2020 10:51

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:53


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