Political awareness and participation of representatives of civil society in the Municipal Council of Social Assistance of Vitória - ES - Brazil

Abstract This article aims to understand the political awareness and the participation of members and deputy members representing civil society in the Municipal Council of Social Assistance of Vitória (ES). The discussion is based on the political awareness model for understanding participation in collective actions developed by Sandoval (2001). It is a qualitative research, with data obtained through analysis of documents, non-participant observation in the council’s plenary sessions, and semi-structured interviews with eight members and deputy members representing civil society in the Municipal Council of Social Assistance. The data collected was then submitted to content analysis (BARDIN, 2004). The subjects studied represented three different segments of civil society and the results revealed different forms of political awareness between them: representatives of social services users were more sensitive to aspects such as collective identity, political efficacy, and justice and injustice. Representatives of nonprofit showed to be more sensitive to aspects such as collective identity, antagonistic and opposing interests, and political efficacy. Representatives of the workers in the field of social services demonstrated sensitivity toward political efficacy and justice and injustice. The conclusion is that different political awareness influences how: representatives of workers participate in a limited way to the plenary sessions, and more on thematic commissions and providing technical support to nonprofits. Representatives of service users participate more comprehensively in social movements, neighborhood associations, and demanding for social services from the public administration. Representatives of nonprofits participate in social movements, in activities related to the public administration and in activities involving the nonprofits’ beneficiaries.