ABSTRACT: In sum, the article aims to analyse the formation of civil identity and consumer actions as an expression of deliberative democracy, and the qualified public participation in the Brazilian’s Policy for Consumer Relations. Besides, it identifies the State as an important developer of effective and qualified civil society input, ensuring better prevention and prosecution of offenses committed in the market, and also improving the quality and safety of consumption’s goods and services in general.
KEYWORDS: Brazilian’s Policy of Consumer Relations; Civil-instrumental citizenship; Consumer Law; Shared Political Authority; Solidarity
This article aims to discuss the advantages of a collaborative model of freedom in which consumption is not a mere act, but truly a civil and social obligation to prevent consumer conflicts in Brazil by means of effective and systematic occupation of new political spaces of deliberation as presented by the legal microsystem for consumer’s protection, in particular the enactment of Law n. 8.078/90 (Consumer Defence Code - CDC).
The Consumer Defence Code has created a qualified model of political debate among the community of consumers, agents of the economic market and the State through legal references to the National Policy for Consumer Relations, precisely contemplated in Articles 4 and 5. This political debate has opened doors to legal alternatives for improving consumer’s relations through rediscovery of solidarity, social empathy, social collaboration, and the evolution of consumption standards as a clear expression of fundamental rights.
In other words, the power to intervene in the political decision-making process of each consumer causes the feeling of individual belonging to a group and reinforces the new concept of instrumental citizenship for consumer relations. The National Policy for Consumer Relations expresses the idea of shared authority.
In a global capitalized world, the individual consumer has become a hostage of his materialistic impulses which are overwhelmed by media publicity and massive persuasion. Consequently, desires are sold as real consumption needs, causing the society to become sick with compulsive and irresponsible consumption and to lose their civil self-esteem as well as the political power created by the Consumer Law.
The wrong assumption of a false role of the State in the political landscape that took much of the doctrine to simplify the scope of the National Policy for Consumer Relations as programmatic rules of mere definition of administrative skills. Taking an opposite direction, the Brazilian’s Policy for Consumer Relations offers a three-way commitment between civil society and suppliers by means of qualified mediation. This is possible by identifying the legal tools that are made available for consumers to effectively occupy these spaces. In this scenario, special emphasis is given to the role of consumer associations.
In sum, the article aims to analyse the formation of civil identity and consumer actions as an expression of deliberative democracy, and the qualified public participation in the Brazilian’s Policy for Consumer Relations. Besides, it identifies the State as an important developer of effective and qualified civil society input, ensuring better prevention and prosecution of offenses committed in the market, and also improving the quality and safety of consumption’s goods and services in general.
II.A Brief Summary of Consumer Legal Protection in Brazil
The emergence of consumer law is a consequence of gradual development, considering that Law 8.078/1990 (CDC) did not come into effect, purely and simply, from our legislator, but as a result of a much broader process of compatibility of constitutional principles (free initiative and consumer protection). This process includes what the change of behaviour of the State represented as it started to act in a more managerial and pre-programmed way. The final product of this process is one of the most modern legislation about consumer treatment.
It is necessary, therefore, to identify that there was a process of evolution, because the problems verified in the consumer society waved to the lag of our legislation.
Apart from what happened in most countries, in Brazil, Consumer Law emerges at first through the Constitution, and then it receives infraconstitutional treatment.
The Federal Constitution of 1988 (CF), in several of its articles, brings the first rules of consumer protection. These are as follows: art. 5, item XXXII, art. 24, VIII, art. 150, § 5º, art. 170, item V and art. 175, Sole paragraph, II. All these norms have their degree of relevance for consumer protection, but the ones that have more and more direct influence in the phenomenon are articles 5, XXXII and 170, V, because they are based on principles. In the first case, one has the protection of the consumer as one of the fundamental rights of the individual. In the economic order chapter, the concern with the consumer is held against other principles such as free initiative and free competition, in the same condition as the fundamental basis of this normative organization.
Therefore, consumer protection is framed by two different perspectives: the individual and the community consumer protection, as a fundamental right and one of the foundations of the economic order itself. This particular matter arises a question: How can consumer protection be reconciled with free initiative, since both have the same hierarchy, are framed by the same constitutional device (Article 170) although apparently having antagonistic normative content?
This inquiry is justified because, in principle, the idea of free initiative seems to be unfeasible, which suggests the free exploitation of economic activity with consumer protection, which, of course, establishes limits to this activity. It is necessary to reconcile these two principles in order to maintain the coherence of the legal system.
Once Consumer Law can reconcile these two principles, the infra-constitutional legislator will feel free to create a code, systematizing all this protection, and then the Consumer Defence Code (CDC), Law n. 8.078/1990. In this sense, it is possible to affirm that the CDC arises from a demand for pragmatization of this Constitutional principiology.
III. Political Authority Shared in Consumer Relations
Consumer Law is brought to a new model of participatory, postmodern society, as it draws attention to a new diverse dimension within the law. A new concept of a State that accepts the sharing of political authority and allows organized civil society to integrate – within this context: a new model of civil action. This concept of solidarity represents a challenge to the individuality of the consumer, since it breaks with the indolence of the consumer and with negative freedom, since it was thought until recently that within the domestic sphere the protection of consumer interests could be guaranteed in all its yearnings exclusively through state activity and negative freedom.
The ideal of solidarity presupposes a substantial switch of paradigms, since it is necessary to change the way the State is seen, leaving aside the Liberal Abstentionist perspective as now the State accepts the condition of decision-making in order to guarantee its legitimacy, inviting the society to a permanent debate.
The law, once deeply influenced by individualistic logic, assumes itself in its plural form. That is, now, from the perspective of solidarity, the law will consider the subject far beyond his individual condition, since it recognizes the existence of categories of people, according to the factual inequality. This imposes, as inevitable, the need for creating legal inequalities of treatment through a legitimate fact of discrimination, the vulnerability of the consumer to the holders of the means of production.
One can also understand this Plural Law under the analysis of the variation of the formal sources of law, which, now, does not depend only on it, since it accepts competition from the moral, ethical norm, to collaborate in the formation of the legal norm and. This movement was previously seen as dangerous to state control, which edited norms with the general stamp of social control.
A third aspect of this Plural Law, which stands out is the opening of political spaces for deliberation, which creates mechanisms so that the citizen/consumer can feel an integral part of the process and also realize that their concerted civil action (qualified and well-informed) can decisively influence the political process, not only for the improvement of the legal standard of consumption, but also for the creation of an environment of harmony in the relation of consumption.
When we talk about solidarity within the relation of consumption, it means to identify a triple transformation within this space of postmodern reality, developed in the political, juridical and social aspects. In these terms, there is a challenge to social paradigms and the individualistic model of law as well as the Liberal State, because this model no longer meets the growing and ambitious expectations of the society, full of intersubjective conflicts, especially those arising from dynamic and massive economic activities.
The recognition of the idea of solidarity is essential for a new trajectory, for a new conception of postmodern society, and Consumer Law, in this process of affirming solidarity and within the Constitutional perspective, makes a great advance, since the Art. 5, item XXXII of the Federal Constitution by itself has advanced the category of consumers to a constitutional status as it defines this protection as a fundamental right and, therefore, a self-executing norm. However, the most emblematic constitutional reference in consumer protection, and therefore of greatest impact in this paradigm shift, is item V of art. 170, CF, where consumer protection is raised to the same level as the principle of free enterprise.
Thus, constitutional foundations for the codification of consumer relations were created and protecting the consumer means necessarily restricting economic activity. What, then, is the role of the state?
The State has the role of conducting the exercise of free enterprise by establishing ethical standards for the freedom of the entrepreneur, a kind of mitigated freedom, which is not to say that it will assume an interventionist character, or it will remain liberal, but a leading State in the Protection.
The constitutional recognition of the consumer in the Federal Constitution was the basis for the creation and affirmation of the order of principles within the CDC, as well as the conceptual norms that permeates it.
Therefore, articles 4 and 5 of the CDC do not merely call for a civil invitation to society, economic agents and the State, but a true civil duty, a commitment of the consumer to himself and to the category of consumers.
In this line of understanding, one should abandon the idea that the National Consumer Policy highlights the role of the State in defining Goals or commitments for adequate consumer protection, or that it would be faced with mere general rules of administrative competence, for if this were the case, there would be an undeniable underestimation of the importance of the consumer, now seen as a politically engaged citizen which opposes the State as a mediator and serves as a channel to capture opinions, articulate discourses, and filter the results of the ongoing debate between the consumer and the economic agents.
The State is obliged, therefore, to share many responsibilities with civil society, making itself present in the economic activity, acting as the police in defence of consumers and fostering qualified performance of the representative associations. Among the desired goals, the right to education and access to consumer-qualified information are have especially become major concerns of the legislator at the CDC. The CDC in this regard promoted changes of ethical standards for economic agents, provided that the new model of civil education is incorporated by the consumer, since citizens will only be able to intervene in a qualified manner in this debate if they are educated to understand the different degrees of business commitment to the duties imposed by the law. This understanding can level their choices from strict standards that consider, for example, the greater projection of durability of consumer goods, institutional credibility of the brand to meet the demands of consumer, to name a few.
The entrepreneur who does not anticipate the desires of the consumer, or fails to value the opinion of the consumer, will be doomed to failure. Education, in this sense, involves a reciprocal obligation between consumers and economic agents. Access to information, in turn, is the starting point for the exercise of freedom of choice.
In addition, it is noted that the National Consumer Relations Policy is sometimes confronted by new challenges and needs of consumers, requiring a permanent update of the normative micro-system of consumer protection, in order to oxygenate methods of conflict resolution. One is the “Super Indebtedness” theme, which stems from the consumer's inability to make rational choices in the market because of the negative influence of mass advertising and consumer harassment, being affected by the aesthetic pattern of a relentless cultural industry. This leads to debts that are not compatible with the domestic budget or more so with the economic reality of the country.
The irresponsible credit concession needs to be more regulated, especially when it occurs to the detriment of the elderly, now considered in their aggravated vulnerability (hypervulnerability). Standardized consumption appeals that simulate an ideal and fantasized life model deserve better regulation, that is, the consumer needs better instruments to counteract the offerings of the cultural industry.
The cultural industry dictates pre-established behavioural patterns, defines which new needs of consumption on a global scale, interferes with the aesthetic sense, and informs what must be bought to achieve a pseudo social status or just personal fulfilment.
The consumer is being indoctrinated to have their consumption habits decided by others, a kind of voluntary servitude, in which it is more comfortable to accept the standards imposed by the cultural industry, to have to make choices for its own sake. The approach used is aggressive, resulting in real harassment, subjugating the capacity of choice and reflection of the consumer, forcing people to decide on impulse and according to a single aesthetic standard.
Associated with an artificial individuality, which suggests a responsibility only to themselves, are ideas spread by the current and even more convincing models of mass advertising conviction, to the detriment of the individual singularity. In other words, the logic of the current market raises the “disposability” of men from the very superficiality of their desires, in a way forged by the market itself. The consumer society has become used to pre-programmed obsolete because the idea of durability of consumer goods does not please the consumption market, which has always sought the continuous circulation of consumer goods and, in recent years, has also been incorporated into the habits of the global consumer, so far as their personal dissatisfaction with life or even their emotional and social needs which can be easily compensated by the satisfaction and pleasure of buying. The idea here is not to satisfy a real need for consumption, usually associated with the utility of that good for an illusory and, of course, fleeting purpose.
Liquid-modern culture is no longer perceived as a culture of learning and accumulation. Now, as Bauman describes it, a culture of disengagement, discontinuity, and oblivion is revealed.2
The culture of waste, garbage and the irrational use of natural resources to appease the consumer needs of a global market always eager for novelties and new aesthetic standards to be followed is increasingly reducing human individuality and its full capacity to make choices not only for consumption, but also in professional and personal matters.
There is a growing loss of individuality of the consumer/worker, since his status as a compulsive consumer prevails over that of worker. Today's worker juggles several jobs to artificially raise income overtime. Additional hours of insalubrity and night, to adhere to the consumption impulses, living and getting accustomed to a permanent state of damage.
From a first perspective, one could understand that it is the responsibility of the employer to prevent the worker from being placed in that condition of hypervulnerability, worsened by the compromise of his own welfare, or it would be a responsibility of the worker to preserve his or her own physical and mental health, or is it the responsibility of the State, which should not have implemented a public policy of financial education for the consumer or a more rigorous control of aggressive credit advertising?
Nowadays, there is much discussion on short-term, about-to-become obsolete products, since consumers no longer see access to consumer goods as an increase in their assets, but rather as a transitional symbol of social status, to transmit to society through social networks that the Longed-for standard of quality of life and full satisfaction. But this feeling will always be superficial and ephemeral, for goods must be quickly replaced by other archetypes of artificial satisfaction. The fluidity of social reality, the excessive attachment to a cultural model of behaviour, the often harassment approach of the entrepreneur, all need to be discussed within the National Consumer Relations Policy.
Even those consumers who try to escape this pattern of aggressive consumption, such as those who opt for healthier food and seek organic food, are faced with exorbitant prices that make it expensive or even impossible to make a differentiated choice of the pre-set standards.
In this sense, we see the emergence of new market players, such as the coach and the personal stylist. The former functions as a guide for a certain professional to make the right choices to be successful in the profession. The latter will define the way of dressing, what to buy and even the “best” way to place shoes in the closet or in the suitcase. In other words, making personal and professional choices can already be pricely outsourced. Therefore, the market has likewise pre-established choices for individuals.
Considering this reality, what instruments are offered by the National Consumer Relations Policy to allow a better-informed consumer decision within this debate, or at least stimulate the consumer's awareness of such illicit behaviours?
In this presentation, we will highlight two instruments, namely: the performance of Representative Associations of Consumer Law and Collective Consumer Conventions.
Democratic deliberative politics is at best a procedural idealization, that is, it suggests that the ways from public shared deliberation to political decision must be clear, because one can only speak of democracy when there is no interference to disturbs the influence of the sphere of communicative reason on the State bureaucracy. Deliberative democracy is a product of modernity, of modern thought, especially the enlightened discourse of the autonomy of reason (human autonomy), which Habermas rescues as a self-referential character of rational and rational constructions.3
Habermas seeks reconciliation between practical reason and popular sovereignty, between human rights and political sovereignty, between individual and collective or political autonomy. In any case, the exercise of popular sovereignty guarantees, at the same time, the exercise of human rights. In this respect, the German philosopher meets the new concept of solidarity drawn by the paradigmatic transition, since the exercise of a non-indolent freedom, motivated by the pleasure of participating in political sovereignty, would be the driving force behind the political, social and legal transformations.
Habermas bases his idea of democracy on four fundamental bases; 1) It is not possible to base democracy on fictions such as that of a rationalist natural right, nor can it be based on ontological theories, which signify, in advance, a natural end to man and to political society; 2) It is not possible to found democracy on a hypothetical social contract, that would be displaced before the communicative agreement; 3) Only public discourse grounds can legitimize the arguments of practical reason; 4) It is necessary to escape the concrete utopias, that is to say, those that enclose and seal within them the form of a truly liberated society4
Habermas does not condemn the individualism inherent to modern freedoms but seeks to reconcile it with collective democratic autonomy. The author goes even further by recognizing the fact that classical private rights have an intrinsic value and therefore are not exhausted in their instrumental value for the formation of a democratic will. At this point he is similar to Rosseau, who asserted that the same person and at the same time should have the status of subject and sovereign, that is, of a free citizen and legislator, in reconciling his negative and positive freedom, that is, Their individuality with the capacity of self-legislation of their interests. In any case, it is important to note that the exercise of both freedoms is not absolute, but limited, because no one is free to go his own way, nor can everyone legislate on what they like or want.
In Brazil, despite the twenty-seven years of the CDC, there has been little development of social empathy, with a true gregarious spirit, sharpening group perception, through a model of instrumental citizenship. This instrumental citizenship derives from the self-knowledge of the consumer as a person belonging to the same community, in which all have exactly the same capacity of intervention in the political-deliberative process for the perfection of the norm of consumption.
Unfortunately, civil society is still dependent on the legitimate officials, such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender, etc. This dependence arises precisely from the lack of recognition of the individual with the group, since the individual still weaves and overlaps with the community.
Another important instrument is the Collective Consumer Conventions, foreseen in article 107 of the CDC, that although they exist formally in practice, it is not known that some would have been carried out in Brazil.
The consumer society is used to government guarantees.
First, it was the legislator, who would be the redeemer of social problems in modernity through positive law. Great mistake. Then, with the crisis of credibility of the legislature, we attribute superpowers to the judges, who should always give the last word in intersubjective conflicts, since their decision-making authority would be even more important than the subjects' self-capacity to resolve their differences through debate. A minimal insurgency should be judicialized, as the only guarantee of legal security, and with this society has been underutilized its self-composed tools and autonomous normative solutions, as was the case with the Collective Consumption Convention.
The idea behind all this debate is to realize that once we have the recognition of shared political authority, the State is no longer seen as the great protagonist, but as an important mediator of the consumption relationship. Law has already abandoned its individualistic feature and assumed a plural perspective. What is missing, then? That the society notes this new model of instrumental citizenship and begins to effectively occupy the new political spaces of deliberation and make use of the numerous legal tools placed at its disposal.
IV.Civil-Instrumental Citizenship of the Consumer and the Redemption of Civil Self-Esteem
It is not enough to just proclaim the virtues of the new political spaces of deliberation proposed by the National Policy of Consumer Relations, but it is necessary that the community of consumers truly believe in these virtues and can clearly visualize the connection between this model of participatory democracy and the idealized results. In other words, the consumer who takes part in democracy, as well as the one who only observes, must recognize the effectiveness of participation as civil performance, which would be made concrete by their capacity as a community to influence, control and decide on the execution of public policy.
In the same way, there is no doubt that the increasing occupation of these political spaces by the consumer who believes in the effectiveness of the process can improve the democratic regime itself in several ways, among which we can highlight the following: (a) training of citizens better equipped for general political action and for the exercise of positive freedom; (b) favouring the technical improvement of the business in the quality and safety of products and services, as well as meeting the demands of consumers; (c) implementing greater transparency, rationality and efficiency of the public service and, consequently, the regulatory role of the State in this segment; (d) adapting the governmental role to implement effective actions for consumers, not only because of their vulnerability, but also because of their hypo-sufficiency; (e) recognition of an open vessel for the channelling of consumer demands.
In this respect, the vision of Adrián Gurza Lavalle is very illuminating, recognizing the existence of two immediate effects of political participation on the subjects: social and psychological: “Participation as a school of citizenship, capable of cultivating civil actions and elevating individualism to the understanding of the public good, is a classic thesis. Growth in self-confidence or self-perception of the citizen's sense of efficacy is another psychological effect associated with participation. These two effects would be able to trigger virtuous circles in which participation generates more participation – either through civil engagement or self-confidence. Still within the social and psychological effects, it is also assumed that the participatory engagement increases the sense of belonging of the citizen to its society. In this sense, participation would not only strengthen the formation of broad political identities, but would contribute to the legitimacy of political institutions.”5
The author continues: “Thus, participation would increase the trust available in a given community, enabling cooperation and the creation of group responses to common problems. And for similar reasons, it would strengthen associations or civil society and, although in unspecified ways, would stimulate good government. In fact, the idea of the art of association as an antidote to the authoritarianism of the centralized power of governments was formulated for the first time in the Nineteenth century.”6
It is necessary to advocate for a true “institutional architecture” to foster a sense of social empathy and the formation of bonds of solidarity between citizens and consumers, quoting Brian Wampler, who explains: “The institutional architecture of IPs links social movements and community leaders in an ongoing process that can build trust through repeated interactions. Through this channel, citizens have the means to share their problems, as well as to establish "bonds of solidarity" with individuals and groups facing similar problems. Trust-building was often cited in the 1990s and 2000s as a key component in creating more effective institutions. Thus, the institutional architecture provides the means for citizens to develop strong ties with their fellow citizens as well as with government representatives”7
This institutional architecture, inherent to the new political spaces of participation, must be in tune with the postulates of the paradigmatic transition towards solidarity, where a virtuous circle can be perceived in the emancipatory model, considering the greater degree of consumer involvement in the decision-making context, better results and more consistent changes will generate more confidence, sharpen the feeling of empathy or belonging to the group, all this multiplied successively.
Another demand is to rescue the consumer’s civil self-esteem, not only to participate politically, but also to believe in the result of that participation and to propagate this virtue.
However, in order to have deliberative effectiveness, it is necessary to observe the following principles: equality of participation, deliberative social inclusion or deliberative equality (political space must be diverse and must ensure the same capacity of manifestation, opposition and deliberation to all), publicity, reciprocity, freedom (expression of thought, expression and choice), perennialism, conclusiveness (in search of a rational, consensual and motivated speech).
In other words, the National Consumer Relations Policy, while broadening the spaces for political deliberation, has clear rules to stimulate their use, and also provides subsidies to guarantee the effectiveness of this deliberation, which dooms (a) the political immaturity of the majority; (b) the influence of the legal good under discussion – safety, life expectancy, consumer safety, degree of relevance, immediate interest of the consumer; (c) the impact and side effects of conflicting issues – procedures should be created to better manage conflicts in order to favour a conducive environment to meeting the minimum conditions of consensus; (d) self-interest Civil participation is most often justified by the direct willingness of the participants to resolve issues, albeit community-based, but related to their immediate and concrete interests and not by the common spirit of group deliberation (which is not entirely negative). On the contrary, this self-interest functions as a starting point and motivation for the debate; and (e) strategic arguments for democratic legitimacy.8
Democratic legitimacy would be related to the idea of “good deliberation”, which requires the movement toward consensus, trying to minimize or suppress existing elements of conflict, either in the opinion or interests of the participants, with two limits to be observed: (a) the difficult connection between the common good and partial (minority) interests; and (b) the difficult institutionalization of a consensus-based, decision-making process without the use of other negotiation strategies.9
The difficult connection between common and individual interests could be important to intensify the differences between the participants and groups in order to make it possible to judge the merits of the proposals in an objective way, since the common identity will be in the form of participation, but not in the origin of the conflict. The common good cannot be presumed in advance, and it is necessary to highlight private conflicts so that any factual inequalities can be corrected.10
As for the institutionalization of consensus, it is possible that the worldview of the participants does not change, but its form of realization might change through the perception of the best way to transform the common ground, that is, when community interests coincide. This could potentially help identify new routes to direct public policies.
In other words, it is not suggested that consumers renounce their interests, but recognize community instrumentation as a faster and more effective alternative, which will oblige consumers to recognize their counterparts as holders of moral consideration and therefore valid interlocutors whose will cannot be ignored.11
It is unquestionable, therefore, that the political strengthening of the consumer also depends on the strengthening of its associated strings.
The historical evolution of Consumer Law in the world was the result of the maturation of the State of “Social Welfare”, when conditions were created for the development and systematization of a minimum legal basis for protection to the economically disadvantaged. In the same way, the evolution of individual rights and guarantees favoured the emergence of new teleological guidelines, which, in the last analysis, evidenced the obsolescence of the Liberal State.
As a consequence, the consumerist movement gains momentum as a kind of counterpower in relation to the economic agents of the market, especially in developed countries. The growth of production, coupled with the increase of income, led to the rise of purchasing power of the citizen. The depersonalization of business activity and the spread of commerce, as well as the insertion of convincing advertising techniques favoured the emergence of some kind of defensive awareness against market abuse.
In addition, the requirements of security, objective good faith and transparency in consumer relations in the midst of products and services with a high degree of sophistication, in a market full of deficient options and information, forced the State and the Law to create legal inequalities of Treatment, in order to compensate factual inequalities between the consumer and the suppliers.
It is clear that demanding more from suppliers as for the quality and safety of consumer goods favours the professionalization of the market itself, raising quality standards and guaranteeing better conditions of competitiveness, that is, everyone benefits from the legal recognition of a new category: the consumer. This, later, observed from a transindividual perspective, consolidated the protection of the interests belonging to every community.
The legal protection of consumer interests in Brazil, therefore, expresses disruption in the entire individualistic tradition of private law and illustrates the sharing of State authority with civil society, by opening up and stimulating the occupation of new political spaces of deliberation, Consequently, this occupation repositions the decision-making freedom of the consumer community towards the suppliers, either through the diffusion of new ethical duties, or through the lesser influence suffered by the cultural industry (mediated and eroding the autonomous identity of the individual), based on the legal-political protection instruments provided in the form of law. This leads to consumer empowerment as an autonomous political category which the starting point for a broader model of citizenship in participatory democracy.
Nowadays, in times when the citizen is much more concerned with the coercive effect of the judicial decision rather than the law, as if it always had to be invalidated by a judge or court, the Code of Consumer Protection (Law n. 8.078/90) preserves its status as a norm of public order and social interest. This is because it has always been at the forefront and the gateway to some of the main transformations that Brazilian law has been going through in the last decades, which generates security and stability in the scope of Consumer relations.
The National Consumer Relations Policy foreseen in articles 4 and 5 of the CDC was designed as a threefold commitment between the State, civil society and the entrepreneur, generating more than just the sharing of state power, but also encouraging the recovery of civil self-esteem which creates a community of consumers which possesses better instruments for the defence of their own interests.
The main concept of this article regarding the political and legal aspects is the identification of emancipatory solidarity in consumer relations in Brazil, which is exhibited by the new interpretive guide to what would be the scope and purpose of the National Policy of Consumer relations, with the new normative-deliberative power of public hearings, collective consumer councils and conventions, and, not least, the opening of A channel of permanent and facilitated access to the Judiciary, through deep innovations in the collective judicial protection of the consumer.
The scope of the references above is not limited to the protection of individual interests which sometimes assume antagonistic positions but strengthens a common interest through the feeling of empathy, and that this community of consumers will have the legitimacy to participate in a political-deliberative process in order to improve their own normative consumer protection.
It disrupts, therefore, the mistaken premise that the duties and goals set forth in the National Consumer Policy would symbolize mere reference to administrative obligations to the State, when in fact they mirror a threefold commitment between civil society, with the much-needed state mediation.
There is a proceduralist bias where the concept of citizenship emerges from the common political identity that everyone has to participate in this permanent dialogue, although the substantive protection of rights is also present, through conceptual and conceptual references that indicate a sensitive concern with the content decisions.
One sees not only the definition of social roles, but consistent indications of how they should be exercised through rational consensus.
The success of the National Consumer Policy, Representative Consumer Protection Associations, the Collective Consumer Convention provided for in article 107 of the CDC and other spaces of shared political authority created from the consumer micro-system (public hearings, councils, conferences and etc.) largely depends on the consumer’s belief that it can transform the country's social, political and economic reality. If these ways of civil action do not provide concrete changes or if they are not noted as efficient democratic channels, there will be a loss of credibility of the same and the consequent disinterest of the consumer to continue investing in this line of action.
It is also important to note that this solidarity-based perspective of consumption disregards metassocial guarantees, as well as strengthens a deliberative path parallel to the omissions of public power, fragile and often promiscuous party interactions and seeks to foster faster and more effective changes through cooperation among consumers who have their individual preferences rearranged in favour of social consensus and a political a common political identity.
Finally, it is critical to remember that the deliberative effectiveness of the new political spaces existing in the field of consumer relations has the potential to enhance the redistribution of investments and the specific public policies of consumer protection through the gradual insertion of the citizen in the decision-making context.
Almeida Debora C. Rezende; Cunha Eleonora Schettini Matins; et al. A análise da deliberação democrática: princípios, conceitos e variáveis relevantes. In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha C. (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação. (Brasília: IPEA, 2011).
Bauman Zygmunt. Modernidade Líquida. (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2001).
Habermas Jürguen. La inclusión del otro: estudios de teoria política. (Barcelona: Paidós, 1999).
Lavalle Adrián Gurza. Participação: Valor, Utilidade, Efeitos e Causa. In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação. (Brasília: IPEA, 2011).
Segovia Juan Fernando. Habermas y la democracia deliberativa: una utopia tardomoderna. (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2008).
Wampler Brian. Que tipos de resultados devemos esperar das instituições participativas? In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação. (Brasília: IPEA, 2011).
1 Doctor of Consumer Law from the University of Salamanca (Spain), Master's Degree in Consumer Law from the Federal University of Pará. Professor of the Graduation and Postgraduate Program at the Federal University of Pará (PPGD-UFPA), Professor of Graduation and Post-Graduation of the Centro Universitário do Pará (CESUPA) of the Post-Graduation in Consumer Law of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Leader of the Study and Research Group "Consumption and citizenship" (CNPQ). He is Public Attorney of the State of Pará and Private Lawyer.
2 Bauman Zygmunt. Modernidade Líquida. (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2001), p. 22.
3 Habermas Jürgen. La inclusión del outro: estúdios de teoria política. (Barcelona: Paidós, 1999), p. 27-28.
4 Segovia Juan Fernando. Habermas y la democracia deliberativa: una utopia tardomoderna. (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2008), p. 27-28.
5 Lavalle Adrián Gurza. Participação: Valor, Utilidade, Efeitos e Causa. In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação.(Brasília: IPEA, 2011), p. 38, our translation.
7 Wampler Brian. Que tipos de resultados devemos esperar das instituições participativas? In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação. (Brasília: IPEA, 2011), p. 48, our translation.
8 Almeida Debora C. Rezende; Cunha Eleonora Schettini Matins. A análise da deliberação democrática: princípios, conceitos e variáveis relevantes. In: PIRES, Roberto Rocha (org.). Efetividade das Instituições Participativas no Brasil: estratégias de avaliação. (Brasília: IPEA, 2011), p. 110-112.
9 Ibid., p. 116.
10 Ibid., p. 117.
11 Ibid., p. 117.