Accepted paper:

Breaking the code of learning in a working class neighbourhood in Bahia


Juliano Spyer (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper shows why the internet has been more useful that public schools as sources for learning for locals in a working class neighbourhood in the Northern coast of Bahia to embrace work opportunities brought by the tourism industry, as the internet resembles local modes of learning.

Paper long abstract:

In the Northern coast of Bahia, the influence of slavery is still strong in terms of family and work relations, even after 120 years of its official abolition. At the same time of abolition, Bahia faced a period of drastic economic decadence that opened opportunities for self-sufficient black fishermen communities to form by the coast. In the past four decades, this same region has experienced drastic transformation as it became an international touristic destination; yet locals rejects formal work and formal education, a situation that creates tensions as work migrants arrive to take these opportunities and prosper, while locals remain poor. The logic of the slave-based caste system is still alive among the people of Balduino, a fishermen village that is now also a working class neighbourhood for the tourism industry. There are three public schools in the village, which are relatively new in terms of infrastructure, but are not attractive to students. This paper will draw on a 15 month ethnographic study conducted there. It will first present how local modes of learning happen in practices such as coded communication. Then it will contemplate the complaints of school principals, which accuse social media of extrapolating the online domain and taking over the space of schools, as now students use schools for socializing and reject education. This paper will finally argue that the internet has become a better source of learning as it fits the local modes of non-hierarchical learning while schools fail because they represent the slave caste system.

panel P26
Social media and inequality