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In this article, I examine free and open source software as a unique terrain of struggle over the politics of globalization, focusing on the Brazilian government's software strategy under the Lula administration. First, I locate this strategy in the historical context of the Brazilian government struggles for technological development and autonomy. I highlight how the Brazilian government used its power as a hierarchical organization to take advantage of the distinctive, networked political economy of free and open source software. I employ a post-structural political economy perspective to analyze the key role of discourse within the Brazilian software strategy. Second, I explore two ways that the Lula administration pursued its strategy of digital inclusion through an innovative approach to the politics of consumption. It used the power of government purchases to shift to free and open source systems, as well as pursuing a more ambitious project to democratize consumption of computers, free software and the Internet among Brazil's poor. I conclude by examining the implications of this software strategy for understanding and developing a political economy of digital inclusion.
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Keywords: globalization; politics; sociology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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