Informal Institutions in Brazilian Border Regions: Analysis of Twin Cities Interactions

Most of the twin cities located along the border of Brazil with other South American countries are characterized by intensive commercial, social and cultural exchanges. In many instances, the national governments lack proper institutional arrangements to address local border issues and pose additional constraints to the interactions between neighbouring cities divided by the international boundary. As an attempt to circumvent these obstacles, local actors engage in the creation of informal institutions and develop “paradiplomatic” strategies, which may lead to political tensions with central state´s formal institutions. This research aims to analyze the evolvement of informal institutions in border regions by answering the following questions: Why do twin cities create them? How are they changed? What types of intergovernmental conflicts may arise? In order to better grasp these issues, it was adopted the classical theoretical framework of Gretchen Helmke and Steven Levitsky, what permitted the identification of different types of informal institutions, above all, "accommodating", "substitutive" and "competing". The empirical observations were based mainly on field work carried out in border regions of Brazil with Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay – in all cases, functional arrangements were established with different levels of (in)formality. It is expected that the analysis will make a significant contribution to the study of social and political border institutions, apart from providing additional insights for the theory on informal institutions.

Vicente Giaccaglini Ferraro Jr. /Universidad de São Paulo