Social Movements, Law and the Politics of Land Reform: Lessons from Brazil, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Social Movements, Law and the Politics of Land Reform

Lessons from Brazil, 1st Edition

By George Meszaros


200 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415827201
pub: 2015-01-07
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pub: 2013-04-18
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pub: 2013-08-21
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Social Movements, Law and the Politics of Land Reform investigates how rural social movements are struggling for land reform against the background of ambitious but unfulfilled constitutional promises evident in much of the developing world. 

Taking Brazil as an example, it unpicks the complex reasons behind the remarkably consistent failures of its constitution and law enforcement mechanisms to deliver social justice. Using detailed empirical evidence and focusing upon the relationship between rural social struggles and the state, the book develops a threefold argument: first, the inescapable presence of power relations in all aspects of the production and reproduction of law; secondly their dominant impact on socio-legal outcomes; and finally the essential and positive role played by social movements in redressing those power imbalances and realising law’s progressive potentialities.


"This is a superb analysis of the challenges facing land reform in Brazil. Its unique contribution is to describe the relationship between the landless movement MST and the State, and to explain the challenges faced by prosecutors, judges and administrative lawyers in advancing land reform. It is a major contribution to the law and society literature, showing how a social movement can shape legal reform."

Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1:Shocking the System: Social Movement Pressure as the Catalyst of Political and Legal Change; Chapter 2:To Criminalise or not to Criminalise? Conflicting Legal Responses to Social Movement Pressure; Chapter 3:Why Law Fails: the Administration of Land Law in the Context of Power Relations; Chapter 4: The Limits of Progressive State Action; Chapter 5: Pushing and Redefining Legal Boundaries through Social Movement Pressure

About the Author

George Meszaros is Associate Professor at the University of Warwick

About the Series

Law, Development and Globalization

During the past two decades, a substantial transformation of law and legal institutions in developing and transition countries has taken place. Whether prompted by the policy prescriptions of the so-called Washington consensus, the wave of  democratization, the international human rights movement or the emergence of new social movements, no area of law has been left untouched. This massive transformation is attracting the attention of legal scholars, as well as scholars from other disciplines, such as politics, economics, sociology, anthropology and history. This diversity is valuable because it promotes cross-disciplinary dialogue and cooperation. It is also important because today the study of law cannot ignore the process of globalization, which is multifaceted and thus calls for inter-disciplinary skills and perspectives. Indeed, as globalization deepens, legal institutions at the national level are influenced and shaped by rules, practices and ideas drawn, imposed or borrowed from abroad.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General