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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Research Staff

Publication details for Dr Alex Flynn

Flynn, A. (2015). Transformation and ‘human values’ in the Landless Workers’ Movement of Brazil. Ethnos 80(1): 45-70.

Author(s) from Durham


Social movements often seek transformation in wider society, but they are also themselves subject to the fluidity and ephemerality of the environments in which they operate. Academic literature has long held the view that social movements inevitably come to be beset by institutionalisation and a loss of relevance, and in Brazil, where socio-economic change has been so dynamic, the future of the Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Sem Terra (MST)) has been called into question. This article argues that the MST is responding to changes in its membership, and transformation more widely in Brazil, in a measured way, by drawing upon a familiar repertoire of cooperativisation to boost production. The article suggests that decline is not necessarily certain, but as a case study for movements more generally, current MST leadership decisions may be significant in understanding how social movements can best react to unpredictable transformations in wider society.