The Brazilian Workers' ABC

Class Conflict and Alliances in Modern São Paulo

By John D. French

The Brazilian Workers' ABC

406 pp., 6 x 9

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4368-0
    Published: May 1992

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John French analyzes the emergence of the Brazilian system of politics and labor relations between 1900 and 1953 in the industrial municipalities of Santo Andre, Sao Bernardo do Campo, and Sao Caetano do Sul. These municipalities, which constitute the so-called ABC region of greater Sao Paolo, were made famous in the late 1970s as a result of a series of strikes by militant autoworkers. French challenges a scholarly consensus that has portrayed Brazilian populism as a "demobilizing" experience in which workers and their leaders were seduced and co-opted by charismatic politicians while being subjected to pervasive domination by the state.

This revisionist, grass-roots view of Brazil's corporatist system of state-linked trade unionism in the 1930s examines the tumultuous political transition after World War II, when workers entered into electoral politics on an unprecedented scale. In examining the interplay between the industrial working class, its leaders, and politicians such as Getulio Vargas, Luis Carlos Prestes, and Adhemar de Barroas, French shows that workers were active and resourceful political political actors whose participation propelled Brazilian politics in a new, more democratic direction.

About the Author

John D. French is assistant professor of Latin American history at Florida International University.
For more information about John D. French, visit the Author Page.


"A major contribution to the study of Brazilian labor history. French's analysis is based on extensive archival and oral history research and on an exhaustive review of the secondary literature on Brazilian labor politics. His community-level work helps establish the empirical basis for better comparative analyses of labor politics in Latin America."--Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"A penetrating analysis of the ups and downs of labor mobilization during the first half of the twentieth century, The Brazilian Workers' ABC: Class Conflict and Alliances in Modern São Paulo illustrates how workers consciously and skillfully used any political opening to advance their interests and aptly confronted the tremendous constraints they faced."--Latin American Research Review

"French's pioneering study of worker politics in the heavily industrialized ABC region of São Paulo challenges prevailing assumptions about the origins and impact of populist alliances in Brazil. His carefully crafted account of worker struggles and government policies raises the discussion of labor and populism to a new level of sophistication."--Barbara Weinstein, State University of New York at Stony Brook