The discourse and coordination among advocacy coalitions: the case of Belo Monte


  • Diego Mota Vieira


Critical discourse analysis, Advocacy coalition framework, Belo monte hydroelectric power plant



This study aims to analyze the use of discourse to solve issues related to coordination between advocacy coalitions in processes of gradual and transformative institutional change related to public policies.


Theoretical background is based on the advocacy coalition framework (ACF), new discursive institutionalism and critical discourse analysis theories. The research examines shorthand notes of public hearings held in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate between 1999 and 2012, carrying out a case study on Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant. The speech extracts were categorized according to the modes of operation of ideology and typical strategies of symbolic construction proposed by Thompson (1995).


The results suggest that the discourse can be an instrument of internal coordination and between coalitions that share beliefs about a policy, as in the case of Belo Monte. Potentially existing coalitions define their identities and set positions on controversial issues, aligning interests and expectations. In the case studied, the modes of operation of ideology verified as instruments of the coalitions were dissimulation, reification, fragmentation, unification and legitimation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper represents a unique analysis of the modes of operation of ideology (Thompson, 1999) in the case of Belo Monte. In addition, the paper aims to contribute to the New Discursive Institutionalism and to the ACF when it uses the critical discourse analysis to articulate a method to analyze the use of the Discourse by the coalitions. In fact, such an approach integrating the ACF, the New Discursive Institutionalism and the critical discourse analysis is something original. Finally, it also addresses a gap in ACF: issues related to advocacy coalition coordination.

Practical implications

Attentive readers linked to organizations working on infrastructure and environmental policies can benefit from the results by envisaging the deliberate manipulation of typical symbolic construction strategies and general modes of operation of ideology.

Social implications

The study sheds light on the daily and behind-the-scenes disputes among stakeholders who are interested in a certain public policy. It may draw attention to the access and professional use of the shorthand notes of the hearings held at the National Congress.


This paper aims to fill a gap pointed out by Jenkins-Smith et al. (2014) regarding problems of coordination of advocacy coalitions. In addition, it innovates by using critical discourse analysis as a methodological reference in ACF empirical studies. In addition, this work continues a trajectory of two other previously published studies dealing with the same phenomenon: a theoretical essay and a case study.


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