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Culture and Change in Brazil Essay

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Updated: Nov 26th, 2019


Brazil has a very diverse culture. Residents of the country have their origins from all the four corners of the world. The Brazilian society has undergone several cultural and social changes. In addition, the country has also undergone several political changes. During the 1960s, the country had a coup d’état, which preceded political transformation of the country.

Political transformation led to the economic transformation of the country. Brazil is a classic example of how good economic policies may lead to economic prosperity of a country. However, despite the economic transformation, the country still has many problems. High crime rates and inequality are some of the problems that the country faces.

Cultural Diversity

Brazil has a very diverse culture. Europeans settled in Brazil in the early sixteenth century. During this period, the population of indigenous Brazilians was approximately 4 million. The Portuguese later colonized the country.

The Portuguese imported hundreds of thousands of African slaves to work as laborers on large plantations. However, abolishment of slavery necessitated the Portuguese to employ Italian immigrants on the plantations. The subsequent arrival of the Japanese and Middle Eastern immigrants increased the racial diversity of the country.

Intermingling of these ethnic and racial groups led to their dilution. This makes it difficult to classify the racial group of most Brazilians. The Brazilian society has very low levels of discrimination. However, people who have a lighter color usually have a high probability of getting a higher income, education, or social status.

On the other hand, very few people who have a dark complexion achieve positions of wealth and prestige. They may only achieve this position in sports or the arts (Parijs 105). This is a clear indication of the mild racial discrimination that exists in the Brazilian society.

Cultural Change

Internal and external factors are the major drivers of cultural change in the Brazilian society. Social rigidity characterizes the Brazilian culture. However, the social rigidity of the Brazilian culture did not hinder the emergence of modernity. Social rigidity was a critical factor that helped in the emergence of modernity.

One of the major factors that ensured that the Brazilian culture does not hinder modernism is the fact that culture is very dynamic. Therefore, modernity did not cut off the cultural values of the country. Cultural values helped in shaping the current culture of the Brazilian society. Cultural values helped in drawing a clear demarcation between social and economic spheres of life (Gordon 95). This facilitated the peaceful coexistence of people within the society.

However, external factors are not the only causes of changes in the Brazilian culture. Various internal courses have led to the cultural change of the country. Stable democracy and politics is one of the factors that have contributed to the cultural change in Brazil. Before 1985, Brazil was under military rule. The military rulers stifled the freedom of Brazilians (Archdiocese of São Paulo 19). In addition, they hindered the development of the economy.

However, after the fall of the military regime and the introduction of a democratic system the country experienced a level of political stability that was previously non-existent. The democratic government democratized various Brazilian public systems. This enabled Brazilians to start reaping the fruits of democracy. This increased the feelings of true citizenship among Brazilians. Despite the considerable developments in democracy, the country still has very high rates of corruption.

However, the government introduced various controls that helped in improving the transparency and stability of public institutions. Therefore, the democratic system increased equality and transparency. On the other hand, it reduced corruption in public institutions. These factors helped in improving the sense of identity among Brazilians. In addition, it enabled Brazilians to respect and appreciate various public institutions.

During the reign of President Lula da Silva (2002-2010), the government introduced several economic policies that helped in lifting millions of Brazilians from poverty. This led to rapid expansion of the middle class. This increased the purchasing power of people in the country. People who were previously poor could afford to buy luxurious items.

In addition, the lifting millions of people from poverty helped in integrating the social classes into an economic life. This created new opportunities to millions of people who were previously poor. This helped in improving their self-confidence. Improved self-confidence improved the mental and psychological health of people in the society. In addition, the transformation of the economic class to a social class led to significant cultural changes in the population (O’Dougherty 169).


Brazil has one of the most racially diverse societies. Intermingling of various races over many centuries makes it difficult to undertake racial classification of most Brazilians. However, racial discrimination is still prevalent in the society. People who have a lighter complexion have a higher probability of success in the society.

On the other hand, people who have a dark complexion may only succeed in the arts or sports. Various internal and external factors have led to several cultural changes. Influence from western societies has led to several cultural changes. Political and economic transformations are the major internal causes of cultural changes.

Works Cited

Archdiocese of São Paulo. Torture in Brazil: A shocking report on the pervasive use of torture by Brazilian military governments, 1964-1979. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1986. Print.

Gordon, Lincoln. Brazil’s second chance: En route toward the first world. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2001. Print.

O’Daughtery, Maureen. Consumption intensified: The politics of middle class daily life in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Print.

Parijs, Philippe. Cultural diversity versus economic solidarity: Is there a tension ? How must it be resolved. Bruxelles: De Boeck Supérieur, 2004. Print.

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