“Developmentalist Brazil” (1945-1964) as a concept: historicizing and (re)periodizing development in Brazil

Vol. 40 No. 2 (2020)

Apr-Jun / 2020
Published April 1, 2020

How to Cite

Barbosa, Alexandre de Freitas. 2020. “‘Developmentalist Brazil’ (1945-1964) As a Concept: Historicizing and (re)periodizing Development in Brazil”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 40 (2):332-54. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-31572020-3091.

“Developmentalist Brazil” (1945-1964) as a concept: historicizing and (re)periodizing development in Brazil

Alexandre de Freitas Barbosa
Professor of Economic History and Brazilian Economy at the Instituto de Estudo Brasileiros da Universidade de São Paulo – IEB/USP, São Paulo/SP, Brasil.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 40 No. 2 (2020), Apr-Jun / 2020, Pages 332-354


The paper presents an alternative periodization of the debate and practice of development in Brazil. It starts with a brief depiction of Rômulo Almeida’s trajectory. It states that during the second Vargas government, a group of bureaucrats – coined as “State organic intellectuals” – occupy a new social position. As the process of economic development unfolds, new contradictions arise, so as other social positions. In the second part, new categories are constructed in order to describe the different conceptions of development during the period 1945-1964. Then, after presenting the many uses of the concept of “developmentalism” over history, the paper delves into the concept of “Developmentalist Brazil” in order to get into the inner dynamic of the period. The purpose is to integrate ideas and social positions, on the one hand, and structural processes, on the other, by addressing the conflicts over development strategies. The “Post-Developmentalist” period (1964-1980) is characterized as a rupture in its attempt to put in place a new development pattern to solve the rising contradictions faced during the “Developmentalist Brazil” period (1945-1964). At the end, we put forth a research programme that could possibly lead to the understanding of Brazil’s structural changes in the context of the post-1980 new capitalist world-economy.

JEL Classification: B-25.

Keywords: Development developmentalism intellectuals nationalists; State industrialization economic thought