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‘God Even Blessed Me with Less Money’: Disappointment, Pentecostalism and the Middle Classes in Brazil

Abstract
Abstract

Through shedding light on traditional Pentecostalism in Brazil this article reveals how middle-class people in São Paulo, Brazil, manage disappointment relating to current socio-economic conditions. Ethnographic research on Brazil's oldest Pentecostal church, which preserves an anachronistic style of practice, shows how people embrace a marginal identity and thereby critique social conditions in the country. In stark contrast to newer forms of Pentecostalism, people featured in this paper respond to an ‘anti-prosperity gospel’, in which failures and setbacks are construed as signs of spiritual purity and development. In a country where a ‘new middle class’ is supposedly finding prosperity, this study shows a religiously-oriented way in which people confront the disappointing gap between the promises of neoliberalism and the realities of jobless growth.

Spanish abstract

Al analizar el pentecostalismo tradicional en Brasil, este artículo revela cómo personas de la clase media en São Paulo, Brasil, manejan sus frustraciones relacionadas a las actuales condiciones socioeconómicas. La investigación etnográfica sobre la iglesia pentecostal más antigua de Brasil, cuya práctica preserva un estilo anacrónico, muestra cómo la gente adopta una identidad marginal y por lo tanto critica las condiciones sociales del país. Con un marcado contraste con formas más nuevas de pentecostalismo, las personas analizadas acá responden a un ‘credo de la anti-prosperidad’, en el cual las fallas y los fracasos se construyen como signos de pureza y desarrollo espirituales. En un país donde una ‘nueva clase media’ supuestamente está encontrando prosperidad, este estudio muestra formas de ser orientadas religiosamente en la que la gente confronta la frustrante distancia entre las promesas del neoliberalismo y las realidades del crecimiento sin empleo.

Portuguese abstract

Ao analisar o pentecostalismo tradicional no Brasil, este artigo revela como a classe média de São Paulo, Brasil, lida com a decepção relacionada à situação socioeconômica atual. A pesquisa etnográfica na igreja pentecostal mais antiga do Brasil, que preserva um estilo anacrônico de prática, demonstra como as pessoas adotam uma identidade marginal e assim criticam as condições sociais do país. Contrastando profundamente com novas formas de pentecostalismo, as pessoas representadas neste artigo respondem a uma ‘teologia da anti-prosperidade’, na qual fracassos e adversidades são considerados sinais de pureza e desenvolvimento espirituais. Em um país onde uma ‘nova classe média’ supostamente está encontrando prosperidade, este estudo apresenta uma forma orientada pela religião pela qual as pessoas confrontam a frustrante distância entre as promessas neoliberais e as realidades de um crescimento sem trabalho.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Hilaine Yaccoub , ‘A chamada “nova classe média”: cultura material, inclusão e distinção social’, Horizontes antropológicos, 17: 36 (2011), pp. 197231

Maureen O'Dougherty , Consumption Intensified: The Politics of Middle-class Daily Life in Brazil (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002)

The Paradox of Police Violence in Democratic Brazil’, Ethnography, 3: 3 (2002), pp. 235–63

Angela Torresan , ‘A Middle Class Besieged: Brazilians’ Motives to Migrate’, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 17: 1 (2012), pp. 110–30

Saintliness and Sincerity in the Formation of the Christian Person’, Ethnos, 76: 4 (2011), pp. 448–68

Diana Nogueira de Oliveira Lima , ‘“Trabalho”, “mudança de vida” e “prosperidade” entre fiéis da Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus’, Religião e Sociedade, 27: 1 (2007), pp. 132–55

Prosperity and Masculinity: Neopentecostal Men in Rio de Janeiro’, Ethnos, 77: 3 (2012), pp. 372–99

Patricia Birman and D. Lehmann , ‘Religion and the Battle for Ideological Hegemony: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and TV Globo in Brazil’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 18: 2 (1999), pp. 117

Simon Coleman , The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Paul Freston , ‘Pentecostalism in Brazil: A Brief History’, Religion, 25: 2 (1995), pp. 119–33

Expansão Pentecostal no Brasil: o caso da Igreja Universal’, Estudos Avançados, 18: 52 (2004), pp. 121–38, here p. 129

Carlos R. Brandão , ‘Fronteiras da fé – alguns sistemas de sentido, crenças e religiões no Brasil de hoje’, Estudos Avançados, 18: 52 (2004), pp. 261–88

Birgit Meyer , ‘Aesthetics of Persuasion: Global Christianity and Pentecostalism's Sensational Forms’, The South Atlantic Quarterly, 109: 4 (2010), pp. 741–64

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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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