Octavio Ianni was a sociologist who helped the Brazilian Nation to learn about itself. He was always concerned about how the country could be better developed. It was not just a concern about economic, financial or political problems, it was about social relations, racial questions and about the scale of inequality presented in Brazilian society. Ianni was bornin Itu - São Paulo in 1926, son of Italian immigrants graduated in Social Sciences in 1954.
The aim of this article is to establish how his ideas about Brazil started and its problems. The task is focusing on a part of Ianni’s trajectory in the academic sphere. He started his master’s degree in 1954 at the Universidade de São Paulo – USP. Florestan Fernandes – well-known Brazilian sociologist –was his advisor and Fernando Henrique Cardoso – Brazilian president between 1995 and 2002 – his classmate.
At that time – beginning of 1940 – Florestan Fernandes was developing some research about the Tubinamba community. Florestan Florestan finished his master’s degree and PHD, writing two important dissertations about the subject. After that he was invited by Roger Bastide – a French researcher,who has been studying a lot of objects as culture and folklore in Brazil, to join the research about racial relations. This research was being led by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to solve issues about racial relations and ethnic questions which had contributed to Nazism during the Second World War. . “O Brasil atraiu a atenção da UNESCO, que o via comoum país onde prevaleciam relações raciais com reduzida presença de tensões. ”
Florestan Fernandes accepted the task and as its leader conducted the research with the help of some assistents such Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Maria Izaura Pereira de Queirós, Marialice Mencarini, Ruth Correia Leite and Maria Silvia de Carvalho Franco. Octavio Ianni did not join the research because he needed tosave some money as he could not afford to support his family without working during that period. The research would firstly include the state of Bahia. After some discussion the project was expanded to other states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Pernanbuco.
After the first research project, led by Florestan Fernandes under the auspices of UNESCO, Octavio Ianni started his master’s degree’swork looking for a place to carry the task on. His first idea under Florestan Fernandes guidance was in the south of Brazil, specifically Santa Catarina – a place where the slavery had not had the same configuration of the rest of Brazil and field that was not contemplated in the first project.
Beside the fact that Octavio Ianni had developed some works about public education and nationalismbefore completing his master’s degree, the research about racial relations in Florianópolis – Santa Catarina was his first successful production. Ianni worked researching the main issues related to racial preconception problems that took place on the island. The research included questions about social and economic inequality between white and black people, inequality of opportunities in the labormarket and differences in access to education.
A Matter of Methodology
Ianni, as a master’s degree student, was under the strong influence of Florestan Fernandes and therefore the School of Chicago. During that period Fernandes remained, applying the functionalist methodology, influenced by researchers such as Talcott Parsons, Robert Merton, Robert Ezra Park, Donald Pierson etc. Ianni as hispupil followed the methodology as well.
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