College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Brazil, AfroBrazilian, affirmative action, Lei de Cotas Sociais, Bolsa Família


Bolsa Família is an antipoverty program that has gained a great deal of recognition in Brazil, while affirmative action is a controversial race based program with less political support. Affirmative action in Brazil though is usually framed in nonracial terms, specifically in the most important piece of Brazilian affirmative action legislation, the Lei de Cotas Sociais. Conventional wisdom is thus an artifact of discourse, for both programs are framed in universalistic terms, but disproportionately benefit AfroBrazilians. A word frequency analysis of newspaper articles is conducted to examine the media’s framing of affirmative action and Bolsa Família. The investigation demonstrates that affirmative action is framed racially and Bolsa Família is discussed from a nonracial perspective. The thesis demonstrates that there is very little discursive overlap in discussions of these programs, despite their similarities, and that this discursive disjuncture enters into the common sense that underlies the politics of the programs.