This work, extracted from the doctoral research of the author, aims to discuss, from the reports of socio-educational system professionals, the access to State politics and programs performed by youth in conflict with the law attending to socio-educational system. In this research, 14 professionals who work in periphery regions, at the South Zone of São Paulo were interviewed, using the methodological proposal of “narrative policies”. From the reports, we can see ambiguities of proposals and state interventions, configuring the “double discipline” of State, evidencing the insufficiency and the disinvestment in social security and social assistance policies, meanwhile occurs the production of an apparatus of repressive measures. We discuss the theme related to the field of public health and the importance of the bonds between professionals and youth attending to socio-educational system.
State; Socio-educational programs; Social public policies; Youth human rights
As the Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente was established (ECA - Child and Teenager Statute)11 Brasil. Lei nº 8.069, de 13 de julho de 1990. Dispõe sobre o Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente e dá outras providências. Diário Oficial da União 1990; 13 jul., changes in the approach and conduct are required on adolescents and young people’s infraction. The youth in conflict with the law is a legal category that stands out in the Brazilian legal system, replacing the term “minor”. In addition to the Statute, the National System of Socio-educational Assistance (SINASE - Sistema Nacional de Atendimento Socioeducativo)22 Brasil. Lei n° 12.594, de 18 de janeiro de 2012. Institui o Sistema Nacional de Atendimento Socioeducativo (Sinase), regulamenta a execução das medidas socioeducativas destinadas a adolescente que pratique ato infracional. Diário Oficial da União 2012; 18 jan. starts in 2006 and it is consolidated from 2012 onwards. The prerogative of this policy is to work on social and educational actions together in the legal accountability of the offending adolescent. This premise is interpreted under integral protection and concerns a commitment among the family, community and public authorities to defend and guarantee fundamental human rights of children, adolescents, and young people.
Starting from the conceptions prescribed in these mechanisms, there is a prerogative for the subjective and citizen constitution of children, adolescents, and young people. Different sectors of public, family and socio-community power are responsible for protecting them. In this conception, the act, in conflict with the law, practiced by an adolescent denotes the mismatch in a collective commitment, whose legal responses will trigger the elements involved, due to the sociability of these subject-citizens as part of their accountability process in a renegotiation of these multiple instances.
This article exposes reflections arising from doctoral research33 Carvalho DSC. Quando o Estado bate à porta - faces do Estado e narrativas sobre a juventude no atendimento socioeducativo na Zona Sul de São Paulo [tese]. São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo; 2019. in the Public Health program and area, at the University of São Paulo, articulating analytical elements in the field of studies of public health and social assistance policies, as well as social sciences, focusing on the adolescence and youth as a discursive object of specific policies and attention from areas of society and the State, as well as their institutional representatives.
We will follow through the reports of professionals from the socio-educational system in an open environment, accessing public policies, or their lack thereof, the spaces where the State acts less in a purposeful role, or spite of it proposes exclusion.
We also intend to bring to the discourse frequently unclear guidelines when it comes to youth policies, especially in conflict with the law, such as high mortality rates, victimization promoted by police actions, poverty and marginalization of part of this population. Considering that the number of homicides among individuals aged 15 to 24 years old is higher than among other age groups. Concerning the Municipality of São Paulo, this rate is directly related to police action in outer areas of the city44 Cerqueira D, Lima RS, Bueno S, Valencia LI, Hanashiro O, Machado PHG, Lima AS. Atlas da Violência 2017. Rio de Janeiro: IPEA; FBSP; 2017.,55 Santos LIC, Oliveira AM, Paiva IL, Yamamoto OH. Juventude e violência: trajetórias de vida e políticas públicas. Estud Pesqui Psicol 2012; 12(2):521-538..
The hypotheses we had, during the development of this study, were the existence of the discourses of the system of socio-educational measures, an understanding of the State and society, not as much as an orderly system of guarantees, but as a pro-beneficent system, where solutions may be individualizing for the life trajectories of the public in attendance, particularly, of young black people living on the outskirts of the South Zone of São Paulo, circumstantial by the conflictive situation with the law. Finally, we understand that incarceration and/or violence are the State’s most frequent responses to the young population in vulnerable situations, especially young black people. The research intended to unveil, from reports of socio-educational work, narrated by professionals in the system of socio-educational measures, how these relationships resonate.
The general objective of the research was to understand, from the reports of professionals from the socio-educational system, access to State programs and policies by youth in conflict with the law and who live on the outskirts, in the South Zone of the Municipality of São Paulo. Still, as specific objectives: to discuss, based on the conceptions and descriptions made by these professionals, regarding the dynamics of work, the transit of socio-educational policies with other social policies, and their relationship with young people in the services they deal with social, family and territorial contexts. And, to raise, from these reports, cases, and histories of socio-educational care, narrated by professionals in the socio-educational system, which offer outlines that enable the discussion on the access/exclusion of young people in socio-educational care to social policies and rights.
Socio-educational work, by the instruments for the protection of the rights of teenagers, mainly ECA and SINASE, serves young people referred by the Judiciary in the age groups of 12-21 years old (when they comply with the measure applied before turning 18 years old).
The system of socio-educational measures in a closed environment is developed by the State government. It is meant to attend young people sent to fulfill custodial measures: measures of detention or provisional detention. This system is a substitute for the FUNABEM-FEBEM model, seeking in its proposal to carry out educational and training activities for young interns.
The system of socio-educational measures in an open environment, which we will address in this article, serves young people in compliance with measures to restrict freedom, sent by the Judiciary with specific demands. The professionals interviewed in the research work in this area. The management of these services is municipalized, as provided by SINASE.
In the municipality of São Paulo, activities are carried out by non-profit civil society organizations, which are active in different territories. Administration and financing are the responsibility of the City Hall, through the Municipal Secretariat of Assistance and Social Development (SMADS), through its Special Social Protection coordinators, along with the districts.
The work involves welcoming young people when they leave the judicial system; the elaboration of an Individualized Service Plan (PIA) following the measures also indicated by the judiciary; support and guidance for young people in activities such as document retrieval, searching for jobs, enrollment in courses and school enrollment, inclusion in health and social assistance services; individual assistance for guidance and monitoring by one of the referenced higher-level professionals; group assistance and thematic discussion groups and family groups; home visits; leisure activities, among others.
This is an exploratory study with a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews in groups. The data collection stage took place from January to August 2018, in two districts in outer areas in the South Zone of the Municipality of São Paulo, together with socio-educational services in an open environment (SMSE/MA), linked to the social protection network municipal social assistance. Their choice is justified by social indicators, pointing out regional vulnerabilities and high levels of infraction, violence and youthful lethality. The schedule of visits followed the availability of management and local teams to assist the researcher, and most visits took place on days of the week reserved for services for team meetings.
Fourteen professionals were interviewed (2 of these were the managers of the respective teams) who work in socio-educational measurement services in an open environment (SMSE/MA). The profile of the employees is analyzed according to Table 1. Half of the interviewees were female, while the other half, male. The average age among participants is 34 years old. Most of the workers live in the Southern Region of the Municipality, the same region where they work. Respondents attended meetings that took place in their workplaces. Priority was given to applying collective interviews, (only one of the interviews carried out was individual, due to the need for making an appointment with the interviewed professional, who was the first one in his/her area to agree to participate, but who would be on vacation when the collective interviews were conducted).
Profile of respondents by gender; age; area of residence; training area; and length of experience in the service of socio-educational measures in the open environment.
The only criterion presented to the professionals was their participation by their own will.
The choice for the South Zone of the Municipality of São Paulo as a researched region is related to its high vulnerability indexes, understanding their influence considering the studied theme.
In fact, the South region highlighted issues that imply how policies, subjects, and institutions are organized, and guaranteed relevance and specificities - location - to the discussions treated in the field and now analyzed, considering the high rates of youth violence, but also having in mind that the subjects’ living conditions, in different spheres, are related to the phenomena addressed.
The research was submitted and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Public Health of the University of São Paulo.
Terms of Free and Informed Consent (TCLE) were used as instruments, presented in two copies, one of which was made available to the interviewees and the other to the interviewer, and the data collection occurred with the knowledge and consent of the institutions and their managers.
Stories instead of cases, narratives, and becoming
[...] I think that all (the cases) affect. I think, in general, we always feel affected. We tell each story, but there is a story, they are people, right? (Oyá).
The speech extracted from the interviewee’s report points us to a path towards understanding that, in addition to the academic-scientific dialogue, it is not only about social issues being studied, but, first of all, people’s lives. The interviewee understands that being more stories than cases, as we tend to treat in academic and scientific discussions, it is possible to highlight, “remember” that, after the discussion, there are real people.
That said, following in this text, under the nomenclature of stories, narratives of episodes of lives. Subjects who experience the vulnerabilities and rights violations here, but who are beyond what we can say about them. They are the ones who establish contracts, have wishes, virtues, make mistakes and break the law, who articulate, fight, love, resist, have goals that are achieved or unachieved. They have dimensions that go beyond their conflict with the law and their relationship with the State and its agents, with a dynamic order that is characteristic of life, therefore, deeper, more legitimate and shorter than our approach can achieve.
More than that, the characters that star in such stories are not such stories either. They are being “told” by the professionals and now retold in this work.
The notion of “true will” is presented to us by Foucault’s work66 Foucault M. A Ordem do Discurso. 21ª ed. São Paulo: Edição Loyola; 1996., which deals with the discourse, in the production of knowledge, employing which the “true discourse” is sought, which is inserted and displaced in the relationships of power. This displacement of power that circulates in the production of knowledge is one of the great interests of Foucault’s work, and the author will say that this true will participates in a historically located system, re-producer of segregation. Subtly, the discursive technologies that produce truths and “non-truths” mask this true will that engenders them, the same ones that build up academic knowledge.
Thinking about the methodological choice based on an ethos in health research, in Passos and Benevides we sought the proposal of investment in a narrative policy77 Passos E, Benevides RB. Por uma política da narratividade. In: Passos E, Kastrup V, Escóssia, L organizadores. Pistas do método da cartografia - Pesquisa-intervenção e produção de subjetividade. Porto Alegre: Sulina; 2015.. These authors point out that:
The data collected from different techniques [...] indicate ways of narrating - whether from the participants or subjects of the research or from the researcher himself - who present the data, their analysis, and their conclusions according to a certain narrative position77 Passos E, Benevides RB. Por uma política da narratividade. In: Passos E, Kastrup V, Escóssia, L organizadores. Pistas do método da cartografia - Pesquisa-intervenção e produção de subjetividade. Porto Alegre: Sulina; 2015..
It is also important to highlight that the construction of a narrative goes through the “renarrativity of the world”88 Barbosa M. A narrativa, a experiência e o acontecimento fundador de novos regimes de visibilidade da TV brasileira. Tempo 2004; 9(17):1-20., that is, the narratives refer, at the same time, to the experience of the narrator and the listener/reader and the narrated events located spatially and temporally. The concept of narrative is described, at first by the thinker Walter Benjamin, who affirms the narrative’s lack of interest in transmitting the “pure intention’ of the narrated thing”, allowing an “immersion” into the narrator’s life and his/her subsequent removal99 Benjamin W. Magia e técnica, arte e política: ensaios sobre literatura e história da cultura - Obras escolhidas volume 1. 3ª ed. São Paulo: Brasiliense; 1994..
In this analysis, the option for narrative as a method of analysis and data source is evidenced, so that, not only thinking about the “true will” which Foucault denounces, it is proposed to capture something that is presented in becoming, a concept that anthropologist João Biehl extracts from Deleuzian thought, implying that the methodology of social research pays attention to “human becoming”1010 Schuch P. Antropologia, entre o inesperado e o inacabado: entrevista com João Biehl. Horizontes Antropológicos (UFRGS) 2016; 22:389-423.,1111 Biehl J. Antropologia do devir: psicofármacos - abandono social - desejo. RA 2008; 51(2):413-449., making it possible:
See what is emerging in the field: the micro dynamics of human lives that illuminate new configurations of thought, affective states, and solidarities that can create tears and openings, even if small, in social and political macro realities1010 Schuch P. Antropologia, entre o inesperado e o inacabado: entrevista com João Biehl. Horizontes Antropológicos (UFRGS) 2016; 22:389-423..
These cases-narratives-becoming-stories, retold here, have their protagonists’ names changed for ethical reasons.
We chose to associate the names given to the protagonists of these stories to divinities of Afro-Brazilian cultures and traditions, in an attempt to allude that these black young people and black families are their real-life counterparts.
Results and discussion
The story of Onira, the mother-daughter
Among 120 young people enrolled in that service of socio-educational measures in an open environment (SMSE/MA), there were six girls by the time of the survey. Few in number, but, according to Dandalunda, the professional who collaborates with this narrative, despite a few cases, these were “bombastic”, “very complex”.
Dandalunda is the technician reference responsible for monitoring Onira’s measures, who turned 16 years old in that service. By that time, she was expecting her second child, and by the time of the report, the baby was four months old. Onira lost custody of her first child when she was institutionalized at Fundação Casa, the child is being cared by her/his father’s family.
They go through “extreme need”, says the professional, they are in need of “food and housing”.
Onira lives with her current partner, her relationship is described by the technician as “conflicted”. He says that the couple, on one of the occasions, worried the team, who, at first, thought the couple was arguing. “They were just playing checkers, we thought they were killing themselves” (Dandalunda).
Onira was diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy and, at delivery, the child was infected. Dandalunda claims to have had conversations with the health team and is suspicious of possible negligence of the Basic Health Unit team.
According to the Epidemiological Bulletin dedicated to the topic of Syphilis1212 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde (MS). Secretaria de Vigilância em Saúde. Boletim Epidemiológico: Sífilis 2017. Brasília: MS; 2017., there has been, in recent years, a great increase in cases of syphilis in pregnant women, both congenital and acquired. The most significant numbers of cases were in 2011; only in the State of São Paulo, there was an increase of up to 800% in the notifications of new infections in the period between 2011 and 2016. Also, similar to what happened in 2011, there was a tendency for an increase in cases in young pregnant women between 15 and 19 years old. The treatment for this sexually transmitted infection is done by administering medication based on benzathine penicillin, a raw material that was in short supply in the same period, aggravating the occurrence of new infections. The treatment considered appropriate for pregnant women infected with syphilis is the administration of benzathine penicillin, starting up to 30 days before delivery, cases that do not meet this criterion are considered to be treated inadequately1212 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde (MS). Secretaria de Vigilância em Saúde. Boletim Epidemiológico: Sífilis 2017. Brasília: MS; 2017.:
I think that maybe in prenatal care there was no treatment (for syphilis) which should have been done. The baby was born, he had to take I don’t know how many (injections of) Benzetacil (antibiotic containing benzathine penicillin) (Dandalunda).
The professional describes the situation as a “generalized absence of the State”. Still, the baby presents symptoms of a dermatological condition, with spots on the skin. And Onira also had a throat cyst then untreated:
[...] She begs on the bus. Unfortunately, she has been doing so. In the public transportation. She begs. She doesn’t even want to take him, but with whom will she leave him [the son]? The husband goes out to sell on the bus, she must go out to beg. Who will the child stay with? Her mother refuses. And she sees the situation getting worse. The only choice she has is to leave the house [to beg] ... Or she stays at home, she can choose this option, but she has no money to pay the rent (Dandaluda).
The service and CREAS (Specialized Reference Center for Social Assistance) managed to guarantee monthly basic food baskets for Onira. However, her enrollment in the Bolsa Família Program (PBF) cannot be completed. The professionals explain that Onira’s mother already has this enrollment in the Program:
Her mother completed the registration and the (maternal) family receives it. As soon as she receives it, the mother will not receive it anymore”. Mother and daughter have a distant relationship, “the mother doesn’t even want to get involved” [...] “She can’t disengage (the mother’s enrollment in the PBF), because she is a minor. And she can’t ask for another registration, because data are crossed (Dandaluda).
The team describes the last home visit carried out, on this occasion, they asked Onira about her eldest son: “Oh, we visited him, he’s with my ex-mother-in-law”. Onira had visited her son before Christmas and, in April, the professionals questioned her about her intention to see her son again. “Yes, I will (visit him), but I can’t go back now, because when I visited him, he asked me for a toy car. And I’m not going back there without the toy car” (Onira).
The story of the storyteller
Interviewee Ewá begins to describe the case of a young man who she called “my storyteller”, due to the various “stories” he tells weekly, citing reasons for not attending the socio-educational measure. “Every week, he comes and tells me a story. I think, my God, what is the true part of this story that he’s telling me, you know?” (Ewá).
Vunji, then 14 years old, the son of a washerwoman - the information about his mother’s profession was surprising for me. Ewá explains that the woman collects clothes from her neighbors to wash, “a profession in disuse”, as highlighted by the interviewee, which sometimes makes her spend some days without job offers. They are registered in the Bolsa Família Program, Ewá informs that this would be the family´s major part of the monthly income.
Living in a territory of high social and environmental vulnerability, in the South Zone of the Municipality, in a region occupied by irregular housing in an area of protection of water sources. “After the bridge”, following a dirt road on the banks of the Guarapiranga dam. So, the social measure service was unable to complete the home visit.
At one point, Vunji tells the reference technician he is dealing drugs. Later, he says he is no longer living with his mother, who would have moved to Piauí, and some more time after, the boy stops coming and getting in touch.
It is mandatory that youngsters attend the socio-educational measure of assisted freedom services with the reference professionals, the frequency is determined by the Judiciary when imposing the measure. After a month of absences, the service sends the non-compliance information to the Judiciary. Ewá tells us about her worries, in addition to the difficulties of access to the region where he lived, she did not have the telephone contact or Vunji’s new address.
Shortly before completing a month of absences, Vunji returns to service, saying that he is now living with his father. He says he returned to trafficking, which led to his mother’s being away and her moving to another state. She would have made him promise to stop trafficking, but he had not kept his promise. Again, the professional feels she must face a complex situation. How can you say he shouldn’t be dealing drugs? Due to their age and where they live, employability circumstances are difficult and inclusion programs are insufficient. Due to their living conditions, lack of family income, trafficking emerges yet another informal solution for local employability, just like laundry on the sand banks of the dam.
How to prevent this young person from trafficking and formally guarantee access to income and preserve their rights?
Vunji, the “storyteller”, and Ewá act on the narrative policies. In addition to a regime of the production of the truth and exclusion of the false, “it was no longer thought exclusively from a center of power” - the measure imposed by the courts, Ewá’s work according to the State -, “politics (of narrativity) is also made by local arrangements, by micro-relationships”77 Passos E, Benevides RB. Por uma política da narratividade. In: Passos E, Kastrup V, Escóssia, L organizadores. Pistas do método da cartografia - Pesquisa-intervenção e produção de subjetividade. Porto Alegre: Sulina; 2015.. Vunji does not think about the results of the choices he makes, tells stories to adapt to the dynamics of state rules. Ewá, while collecting the fragments of the stories told by Vunji, looks for solutions beyond institutional solutions, trying to preserve the young person from the consequences.
The bond developed with the professional is often challenged, by the young person and by the conditions. Ewá says that in the same week that the interview took place, he arrived at her office and said: “I missed the appointment because I’m working with my father”. But there is some uncertainty in his stories, which ones are true? What is the best way to develop a socio-educational work with the family? “I asked him, I gave him a piece of paper, ‘ask someone from your family to come and talk to me’. Even to talk to the family about it!... But I can’t do it so far” (Ewá).
It is worth highlighting the complexity concerning youth participation in outer areas where trafficking is present, as well as the need to address this issue taking into consideration the policies of social protection against child labor1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.. The guarantee of social assistance and inclusion policies in these cases is permeated by conflicts: although there are international recommendations1414 Foucault M. A arqueologia do saber. 7ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária; 2008. and national laws1515 Foucault M. Microfísica do Poder. 28ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal; 2010. that guide the understanding of trafficking as one of the most serious forms of child labor, these cases are rarely handled by this approach by operators of the Judiciary and the social assistance field, in a growing trend to impose punitive measures33 Carvalho DSC. Quando o Estado bate à porta - faces do Estado e narrativas sobre a juventude no atendimento socioeducativo na Zona Sul de São Paulo [tese]. São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo; 2019.. It is also worth mentioning that, when they occur, all efforts to inclusion come up against limited resources in the field of social protection policies for young people.
Story of Sobá’s son
Here we will call Oyá, our interlocutor, who relates a story that followed a recidivism case, young Ajagunã, 18 years old, black, Sobá’s son. “He was being assisted, then he was apprehended again and returned here” (Oyá).
In his brief return to family life, Ajagunã gets involved in what Oyá calls “a situation”, an emic category dealing with possible conflicts or violations, of which there is not much information:
[...] And when he returns, right at the beginning of the measure, his mother dies. His mother dies. But there is a whole situation around it, she has a heart attack, but she has a heart attack when she knows he’s involved in a situation. He had been caught by unknown people. And because of not knowing what was happening and such, she came to have a heart attack, and he was arrested (Oyá).
Oyá tells about her involvement and of the entire team, who assisted the family to carry out his mother’s funeral and also had to attend the Forum, due to the arrest of Ajagunã:
[...] He was arrested because he was 18 years old. He started to comply with the measure, was arrested again, went to Fundação Casa. When he leaves, he was 18 already, and even then he leaves under supervised freedom (L.A.). So, since he was already 18, he went to the CDP (Provisional Detention Center). And what remains of this story, to summarize, is that ... the family, and I think even the society believe that this boy is responsible for his mother’s death. Because the mother had a heart attack, right? He too ... He has that feeling too (Oyá).
The notion of “nervous”, which we take from social science theorists16,17 seems to make sense in this context, when physical and moral symptoms are intertwined through Ajagunã’s “situation”, leading to collapse Sobá’s collapse, who we then discover to be the real protagonist of this story.
[...] I did some research to understand the heart attack issues, what causes it. You need, lack of quality of life, good food, good housing, all of that! Then you live a whole life like this, life of poverty, of social vulnerability, having to face prison, having to go through a vexing visit. All of this, society’s eyes on that person (Oyá).
“I wonder”, continues the report, “How much had this woman been murdered little by little, for all that she had already gone through? Both with this son and with other issues” (Oyá).
Among these issues, unemployment, prison, and the policy of social benefits, as reported by Oyá, accompanied by another professional who had also worked on the case, here called Iemanjá:
Unemployment was plaguing part of the entire family, practically. She had to deal with unemployment and more family members in prison [...] Anyone who is more conservative will say, “It is a family, well, it is already problematic, they commit crime, there are more people involved”. But I look at it, I understand the opposite. What kind of system is this? So cruel, it makes more members of a family have to go through the prison. Even the matriarch of that family dies because of that. Because, for me, she was murdered. The state killed that woman. She didn’t just die (Oyá).
Iemanjá completes the report: “She was under evaluation by the INSS. She was scared to death” (Iemanjá).
The technicians explain that Sobá had cancer when Ajagunã was still a newborn. In his first two years of life, he had been raised by other people, as his mother faced the consequences of a serious illness. “As a result, she received an INSS benefit, and during that period, she was going to undergo a reassessment of that benefit” (Oyá).
Sobá was going through difficulties and had many worries, mainly regarding her family’s livelihood. “What if this benefit is lost?”. Family support, in a systemic context of unemployment, was based on the income generated from this benefit, as the professionals say, “this was the entire family’s income”, and, at any time, it could be withdrawn:
[...] I see it this way, this woman was murdered, yes, she was executed by this State! The State that is perverse. When it is present, it is to punish. I will even compare it to an absent father, who when is present, just punishes (Oyá).
Based on his argument, the State goes through understanding in different dimensions, we take its “paternal” metaphor, leading to different consequences: it is a father who mismanages its resources; it is a punitive father and is an absent father. In the first aspect, it maintains a benefit that does not support the real needs of the family, such as access to work and income for its members and inclusion programs; while seeking control (for the institutionalized life of this family), it does not know how to manage its investments and resources (it keeps the benefit as a substitute arrangement for social inclusion policies). It is punitive, offers constant threats (from cutting benefits, to penalties for noncompliance with the rules), it manifests itself in time to repress “situations”, and has prison as its main measure to face violence and poverty. Finally, it is an “absent father”, not only with the family but with the social welfare and social security policies and with the workers who carry them out, it does not seem to be able to cope with the resources of social reintegration (Ajagunã was a recidivist when he was imprisoned again), demonstrating the need for investment and the supply of resources for open socio-educational policies. The State has ambiguous behaviors, assuming several “faces” for Ajagunã and Sobá’s family, among them, the institutionalization and affection one, the measure in an open environment, but also controls their lives and death.
State and developments in power, biopolitics and racial issues
The notion of biopolitics comes from Foucault’s work1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.
14 Foucault M. A arqueologia do saber. 7ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária; 2008.-1515 Foucault M. Microfísica do Poder. 28ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal; 2010., and deals with the development of management methods, proper to Modernity, which refer to the beginnings of liberal thought. Historically, the existence of reasoning specific to governing is located - governmentality -, which implies the sovereignty of the State, and incorporates biological concepts as political processes1515 Foucault M. Microfísica do Poder. 28ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal; 2010..
Subsequently, the author returns to the concept of biopolitics to address a theory of sovereignty, which develops in modernity and whose conceptions served on wars and the racial issue. In this theory, it stands out, “life and death are not those natural phenomena, immediate, in an original or radical way, that would be located outside the field of political power”1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.. According to this perspective, in the legal and theoretical organization of sovereignty, “about power”, those established as “subjects” are not “in their own right”, “neither alive nor dead”. In biopolitical control, “simply because of the sovereign that the subject has the right to be alive or [...] to be dead”1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.. Foucault calls it a dissymmetry of rights since sovereign power is exercised from “the right to kill”. The sovereignty relationship studied by Foucault verifies the emergence, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, technologies, disciplines (the fields of knowledge) and control institutions directed, both to the bodies of individuals, and aimed at the whole population, “the security of the group in relation to its internal dangers”1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999..
It is important to highlight that Foucault inserts the concept of biopolitics in the context of the study of modernity, thinking about the possibilities of reading about contemporary society, under the aegis of liberal capitalism. It is understood that the technologies and techniques of body management will also be applied to population management. “Now that power is less and less the right to make you die and more and more the right to intervene to make you live”1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.. This movement tends to gradually become a sovereign relationship that little by little detaches, although not completely, from its function of “making people die”, and assumes “making people live” and “letting them die” as strategies1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999.
14 Foucault M. A arqueologia do saber. 7ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária; 2008.-1515 Foucault M. Microfísica do Poder. 28ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal; 2010.,1818 Agamben G. Homo sacer: o poder soberano e a vida nua. 2ª ed. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; 2007.
19 Ribeiro IG, Benelli SJ. Jovens negros em conflito com a lei e o racismo de Estado. RIDH 2017; 5(1):245-262.-2020 Mbembe A. Necropolítica. Arte Ensaios 2017; 32:122-151..
However, biopolitical sovereignty does not completely undo its potential to “make you die”, assuming for itself proposals of supposed biological basis such as theories of hygiene and racism. “In general terms, racism, I think, ensures the role of death in the biopower economy”1313 Foucault M. Em defesa da sociedade: curso no Collège de France (1975-1976). São Paulo: Martins Fontes; 1999..
Agamben1818 Agamben G. Homo sacer: o poder soberano e a vida nua. 2ª ed. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; 2007. returns to the concepts of biopolitics from Foucault’s work, understanding the scenarios of “death” and “life” in the legal and political field. He realizes that this notion produces lives that are only constituted “in exclusion” or “in opposition”, external to the legitimacy established legally by the State, defined by the concept extracted from the Roman law of “homo sacer”. The author introduces us to the concept of “naked lives”, which emerge from the opposite side of political protections, easily being configured as “killable lives”1818 Agamben G. Homo sacer: o poder soberano e a vida nua. 2ª ed. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; 2007. by the State.
Racism arises, in this context of modernity, from the discursive constructions of “dangerous” or “infiltrated” peoples1919 Ribeiro IG, Benelli SJ. Jovens negros em conflito com a lei e o racismo de Estado. RIDH 2017; 5(1):245-262. in population dynamics.
Thinking about the local contexts, what concerns to the black youth of São Paulo, we think about the mechanisms that insert it by the margins in the urban organization, in the production of a social-political group19,20 that presents a coincident age group, they live in the outskirts of a great metropolitan area, and are also potentially controlled, identified and regulated by the action of the State, through its police agents and institutions, being the most affected by the dimensions of violence and lethality44 Cerqueira D, Lima RS, Bueno S, Valencia LI, Hanashiro O, Machado PHG, Lima AS. Atlas da Violência 2017. Rio de Janeiro: IPEA; FBSP; 2017.,55 Santos LIC, Oliveira AM, Paiva IL, Yamamoto OH. Juventude e violência: trajetórias de vida e políticas públicas. Estud Pesqui Psicol 2012; 12(2):521-538..
Wacquant2121 Wacquant L. Punir os pobres: a nova gestão da miséria nos Estados Unidos. 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Revan; 2003.,2222 Wacquant L. A política punitiva da marginalidade: revisitando a fusão entre workfare e prisonfare. Rev EPOS 2012; 3(1):1-28 is an author who deals with the demobilization of the welfare State. Taking this process as a reference, we can think about the current context of São Paulo and Brazil, where, at the same time, there is a reduction in investments in social policies, and an intensification of discourses and punitive proposals of all orders when conducting inclusion/exclusion policies, access/restriction, which certainly has effects on the geography of social inequalities. Wacquant calls these proposals “prisonfare”2222 Wacquant L. A política punitiva da marginalidade: revisitando a fusão entre workfare e prisonfare. Rev EPOS 2012; 3(1):1-28, that implies investment in public policies with a repressive and punitive background, and, like social policies, its objective is to intervene and regulate the population and the bodies of the poor.
However, a complete transition from a social welfare model to a penal model does not occur, producing policies of “double discipline”2222 Wacquant L. A política punitiva da marginalidade: revisitando a fusão entre workfare e prisonfare. Rev EPOS 2012; 3(1):1-28, given by the simultaneous validity of these proposals. This double discipline is made explicit in the story of Sobá’s son, where social security policies and social assistance policies are evidenced through disinvestment, in a transition to repressive measures, either through the socio-educational system or through the prison system.
Das and Poole2323 Das V, Poole D. Anthropology in the Margins of the State. Oxford: School of Amercian Reserach Press, 2004.,2424 Das V, Poole D. El estado y sus márgenes. Etnografías comparadas. Cuad Antropol Soc 2008; 27:19-52. point out that “the relationship between violence and the ordering functions of the State is the key to the problem of margins”. For these authors, the legitimacy of the State occurs as a result of the demarcation of its limits with its margins. State practices territorialize and locate control strategies, in places that are not “merely territorial”, they are also “places of practice where the law and other state practices are colonized through other forms of regulation that are emanated from the pressing needs of the peoples”2424 Das V, Poole D. El estado y sus márgenes. Etnografías comparadas. Cuad Antropol Soc 2008; 27:19-52.. The relationship between sovereignty and disciplinary forms of power shapes the conceptions about the margins of the State.
In the speeches, the history of occupation and development of the peripheral territories is associated with the scenarios of structural poverty, to which the SMSE/MA subscribe with which we spoke. So, the informality of job and income offers, as well as the insufficiency of resources for care inclusion parallel the practices of informal work, from working in laundries on the banks of the Dam, as well as begging and commerce in transportation and traffic.
Power, powers, State, State agents, States
Returning to Foucault, he describes a notion of State/power that does not pass through a fully consolidated, cohesive, homogeneous body, the author introduces us to the concept of capillarity, from which State/power will not always be exercised irradiated from above downwards, that is, imposed in a vertical direction, and confronts resistance and conformity along this path1515 Foucault M. Microfísica do Poder. 28ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Graal; 2010..
When speaking of power, its conformities, radiations, and resistances, Foucault argues for a capillarity of power(s), whereby, in addition to the State, there are agents and agencies that exercise, dispute, occupy, displace the uses of power - games of power. Assuming this premise, we find representations of power relations in the speeches and narratives, - the reports mainly use the term “the State”, which organize often divergent meanings about “the State” and the exercise of power.
Power appears in the research discourses called the State, and it is about its possible agents and agencies that use possibilities of power to some extent. Our interlocutors themselves, are also workers who represent an instance of action by the State - the one that develops socio-educational work in an open environment with young people involved in contexts of conflict with the law. They report other agents that circulate the representativeness of the State (the police or the Judiciary, for example, as well as socio-educational work in a closed environment), in addition to other speeches that compete with their understanding of conduct with young people, which they need to deal with.
Still, other expressions of the State are revealed by the work developed with other services - also representatives of the State, such as health, education, or even other social assistance programs. In Onira’s story, it is evident the difficult way to the Health Unit, and possible negligence on the part of the team, as well as the unsuccessful negotiations for the inclusion of the young woman in the PBF.
In the reports, the phrase “the absence of the State” is common, to deal with a proposition of the State that does not happen through the inclusion of the subjects and their citizenship recognition, but in omissions and negligence, identified by our interlocutors as systematic.
The reports speak of a “State” which is “the States”, its agents and agencies, which are those who use the means of power with the socio-educational system in some way. Also composing a system of ambiguities of practices, knowledge, conduct, and discourses. The State presents its protective face that coexists or resists with a discursive austerity regime, it gives us the impression, in some registers, of a State “under threat” from the State, or the States. Threats that are often confirmed through the “abandonment” of rights promotion/protection functions, from precariousness. The State “knocks on the door” of the young people from the suburbs - an argument by the interviews, with the mission, above all, to punish, and contradictorily, through this way of punishment, it may, later, include young people and black families, poor, peripheral residents, in social programs and policies.
The faces of the state that are presented to the young people of whom our interlocutors speak are often diverse and divergent and even competing.
Possible relations with the field of public health
The field of knowledge of Public and Collective Health is identified with academic-scientific characteristics, historically, multidisciplinary2525 Russo JA, Carrara SL. Sobre as ciências sociais na Saúde Coletiva - com especial referência à Antropologia. Physis 2015; 25(2):467-484.. The dialogue with the knowledge of the Social Sciences, Applied Social Sciences and Humanities is not new in health research, however, according to Ianni, “as a scientific field, with the circumscription of its objects and normative and binding systematization efforts, yes”2626 Ianni AMZ. O campo temático das ciências sociais em saúde no Brasil. Tempo Soc 2015; 27(1):13-32..
Associated with the emergence of objects and methods of systematization, an increase in research topics “of interest to the Social Sciences and Health”2727 Canesqui AM. As Ciências Sociais e Humanas em Saúde na Associação Brasileira de Pós-graduação em Saúde Coletiva. Physis 2008; 18(2):215-250.,2828 Canesqui AM. Ciências Sociais e Saúde no Brasil: Três Décadas de Ensino e Pesquisa. Cien Saude Colet 1998; 3(1):131-168., such as studies on health policies, systems and institutions, critical to health-disease models and biomedical model, in addition to the significant increase in themes related to social movements, gender and sexuality issues, violence, etc. In fact, there is a production that makes objects of reflection as limited, which also indicates the need to change the perspective of traditional fields of knowledge of health sciences in their relationship, not only with the social and human sciences but with the society.
This concern can be understood, among others, by discussions about the concept of demographic and epidemiological transition 29,30 that accompanies changes in the patterns of mortality and illness of societies, changes which are strongly associated with the demographic and socioeconomic transition that constitute the modernization complex. The study of these models indicates different trends, ongoing in several developing countries, such as Brazil.
In the country, this is marked, not only by the resurgence of infectious diseases, then controlled, such as syphilis, the increase in mortality number from chronic non-communicable diseases (conditions such as hypertension, cancers, among other injuries) and the significant increase in the death rates of the population due to violence (homicides and suicides) in addition to accidents. We understand that the human and social sciences have important tools for reading and discussing these issues, increasing interpretive possibilities.
Based on the reports, we follow stories, such as those of Onira and Sobá’s son, that relate to this ongoing transition, thought by the health sciences professionals, but also, based on broader references, related to perspective transformations in society, which point to social issues and conflicts, and relate the field of health and social policies.
Finally, regarding the need to understand the interfaces between public health and social policies, and the recognition of public health as a social policy, due to its potential to form “ethical and evaluative references of social life”, since health policies drive “a process of appropriation, redefinition, and production of social meanings”, producing “real impacts on the social structure”3131 Fleury S, Ouverney, AM. Política de Saúde: uma política social. In: Giovanella L, Escorel S, Lobato, LVC, Noronha JC, Carvalho AI, organizadores. Políticas e Sistema de Saúde no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Fiocruz/Centro Brasileiro de Estudos de Saúde; 2008.. Discussing social protection policies is discussing notions of citizenship.
The speech extracted from the report of another professional, whom we will call Obá, closes some more questions, which we would like to use to conclude the discussions presented here:
[...] I think for those who want to act (with SMSE/MA) or even research, they have to be emptied, they have to come with the empty cup. Leaving their morals, their customs, their ideals, they have to leave everything out there. Respect families, because the family has a story, it has an experience ... The way you will deal with stories, they are not “problems”, as we have heard, they are not numbers, as given by the State, they are people, they are alive, they have stories, they (the family) arrived here in a moment, but until they get here they have a whole life trajectory (Obá).
We point out from this report some possibilities for discussion. Among them, moral crossings through which the field of socio-educational measure passes. Still, a need that imposes the understanding of the subjects beyond their infraction passages. It also tells us that there are family arrangements that go beyond the models understood as “standards”, and social policy workers deal with these different arrangements, more than that, they seem to participate in some way, also seeking their place in these arrangements. Finally, it draws attention to the narrative policies that we now rescue, more than “research problems”, “case studies”, or options that meet a regime of truth production, whether in the state devices, (such as “numbers”, or “for those who want to act”), whether in academic production, (as “problems”, or “for those who want to do research”), we deal with life stories that go beyond the scope of our speeches. According to Passos and Benevides’ proposal77 Passos E, Benevides RB. Por uma política da narratividade. In: Passos E, Kastrup V, Escóssia, L organizadores. Pistas do método da cartografia - Pesquisa-intervenção e produção de subjetividade. Porto Alegre: Sulina; 2015., the expression of knowledge that we produce not only as “a theoretical problem but a political problem”77 Passos E, Benevides RB. Por uma política da narratividade. In: Passos E, Kastrup V, Escóssia, L organizadores. Pistas do método da cartografia - Pesquisa-intervenção e produção de subjetividade. Porto Alegre: Sulina; 2015..
The stories, produced from the work of the teams, in addition to the scope of the socio-assistance policies, also represent the bonds that these professionals and teams develop and the performance of a role in different family arrangements and organizations.
The stories are about questions, affections, unpleasantness, challenges when facing a scenario of few intervention resources about serious questions posed by the dynamics of society and the State. About the refusal to reduce work to bureaucratic mechanisms, about affection and identification with the subjects.
We follow the proposal of anthropologist João Biehl1010 Schuch P. Antropologia, entre o inesperado e o inacabado: entrevista com João Biehl. Horizontes Antropológicos (UFRGS) 2016; 22:389-423., when he asks us to: “find ways to create with our subjects and from the new figures of thought”, and challenges us to “tell stories about human becomings”. Following this intent, all the characters in these stories (and even one who is also a narrator) speak, not only about the execution of social policies but about relationships and becoming.
What unexpectedly emerges in this field is, certainly, the affective aspect that mobilizes our interlocutors in the performance of their functions. The look, the listening, and the sensitivity, the availability that they offer to young people and families, the participation in their lives are presented due to the willingness to be together, “someone to count on”3232 Sposati A. Estudo da capacidade protetiva de famílias beneficiárias de Programas Federais de Transferências de Renda em regiões periféricas metropolitanas. Brasília: Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome; 2011.. Bonding with young people and families, which is often intertwined in family institutions, sharing their questions, in the name of a configuration of social bonds that, in our perspective, is an interesting response to incarceration strategies.
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- 20Mbembe A. Necropolítica. Arte Ensaios 2017; 32:122-151.
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- 32Sposati A. Estudo da capacidade protetiva de famílias beneficiárias de Programas Federais de Transferências de Renda em regiões periféricas metropolitanas. Brasília: Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome; 2011.
- Publication in this collection
30 Aug 2021
- Date of issue
31 May 2019
19 Dec 2019
21 Dec 2019