“Becoming” or “getting by”: youth opportunities in times of economic crisis

Principal Investigators: Dr Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos (University of Oxford) and Dr Gabriel Feltran (UFSCAR)

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Summary: Dr Andreza De Souza Santos, Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme and Departmental Lecturer at the LAC, was awarded a John Fell Fund Grant for her project "Becoming or Getting by: Youth Opportunities in Times of Economic Crisis". In this project, Andreza will work together with Dr Gabriel Feltran (UFSCAR-Brazil) to examine a growing interest in military careers among young people in Brazil and how such renewed interest may be connected to a lack of opening positions in other areas. This project adds to Andreza's research on economic diversification in Brazilian Municipalities and Gabriel's long trajectory studying young people in Brazil. The project also advances a collaborative research agenda - Gabriel was a visiting scholar at the LAC in 2019. Andreza and Gabriel will start the project this year, a timely moment to investigate economic crisis and youth unemployment and opportunities in Brazil.

Motivation: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of common understanding that cities across the world will face economic decline, with young people, especially those not yet in the labour market and unable to join a university first or second degree, strongly hit by a combination of lack of opening positions and lack of work experience. In Brazil, young people out of the job market were known, in the years following the last economic recession (2015-16), as “nor-nor” (nem-nem); nor were they looking for a job, nor were they working/studying. In such situations, military recruitment thrives as it is of relatively easy access, focused on young people, and almost universally present. The growth of militarisation in places like Brazil sorely lacks a nuanced interpretation related to economic opportunity.   

This research adds to studies on youth, economic crisis, and military recruitment in Brazil; it unpacks on a city-level where this option is most popular and why thus adding to a literature that examines the struggle for democratization in Brazil, which looks mainly at militarization on an institutional level, such as cabinet composition and budget allocation. This partnership also prepares for a larger institutional collaboration and research agenda on 1) how young people are affected by economic cycles, ​and 2) the lasting effects of the economic crisis in a country’s military vs. civil balance. This research offers new research methods to understand the mechanisms of the new rise of Brazilian militarism, looking at data on a city-level and focussing on aspiring and newly recruited candidates. City-level economic data is also part of Andreza's project on municipal economic diversification (https://www.lac.ox.ac.uk/article/one-company-towns-in-brazil-0).