Valla VV. Redes sociais, poder e saúde a luz das classes populares numa conjuntura de crise. [Social networks, power and health in light of popular classes at a point of crisis.] Interface – Comunicação, Saúde, Educação [Interface - Communication, Health, Education] 2000 August; 4(7):37-56.

Objectives: Analyze the crisis of the Brazilian state as a provider of healthcare services. Analyze the conceptual contributions of different authors to studying the religiosity of the popular classes, plus the living and working conditions of these same classes. Provide an alternative proposal in the fields of education and health.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive, beginning with a bibliographical review.

Results: By participating in social networks, the popular classes seek power to defend themselves from neoliberal capitalism, in order to “survive.” In Brazil , the crisis of the provider state brought on by the process of globalization has exerted a dramatic effect on the relationship of the popular classes to healthcare services. The rise of the neoliberal world points to the construction of another world in which survival will be intimately related to solidarity. The discussion of social assistance leads to an issue that frequently raises contradictions in education and health: the religiosity of the popular classes.

Social assistance consists of any information or material aid, offered by groups and/or persons aware of each other, that yields positive emotional and/or behavioral outcomes. Such assistance produces reciprocal effects on those who offer and who receive the assistance. This reciprocity allows both parties to feel a greater degree of control over their lives and a sense that people need each other.

The bibliographic review clarifies reasons for the growing acceptance by the popular classes in Brazil and in other Third World countries of certain religions, the evangelical in particular. The author also review key literature that contributes concepts for analyzing the living and working conditions of these classes. The concept of popular participation gains currency as opposed to the traditional Latin American authoritarian concept of society, in which those with education and resources point out to the popular classes the correct path to take.

Conclusions: The proposed initiative of social assistance, beyond offering a contribution to the Brazilian health crisis, is also an instrument that helps health educators decipher the different messages that the popular classes are conveying by means of popular religiosity.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico