Insurgent expertise: The politics of Free/Livre and Open Source Software in Brazil

Aaron Shaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Under the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian state has advocated the use of Free/Livre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) throughout the public sector. How did FLOSS adoption gain traction as a developmental strategy across a large federal bureaucracy that had embraced information technology policies supporting export-oriented growth and market liberalization during the 1990s? In a historical case study, I argue that the FLOSS agenda emerged as a result of the actions of a network of insurgent experts working within elite political, technical, and educational institutions. I trace the history of this mobilization and show how a dedicated network of experts brought about conditions for institutional transformation that contradicted prevailing neoliberal policy proscriptions. The Brazilian FLOSS insurgency offers insights into the means by which a group of elites endeavored to reframe debates about technology-driven economic growth around questions of state-led access to source code and knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Brazil
  • Expertise
  • Free and open source software
  • Politics
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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