Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Teoria & Sociedade]]> vol. 4 num. SE lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Social networks, professional reconversion and participation in environmental protection councils and bodies in Rio Grande do Sul</b>]]> This article analyzes the types of social resources that support the entrance and the interventions of environmentalist leaderships in state environmental protection committees. Regular participation in formal environmental protection bodies has been presented in the literature as one of the main ingredients of the current trend of the institutionalization and professionalization of environmental activism. The analysis of the forms of insertion of environmentalist leaderships in diverse networks of organizations and ‘social movements' and of the standards of professional reconversion through environmental defense shows that its interventions are based on political practices and concepts that result from the diversification of the use of school and university education as an instrument of politicalization for professional activities in different spheres of activity. This diversification of the base and forms of professional activities of leaders caused a considerable increase in the number of associations and, more importantly, in confrontations and divisions among the main organizations. Therefore, it is a structure of segmented relations, although it is strongly concentrated in some associations, that constitutes the pattern of articulation and intervention of environmentalist organizations in environmental protection bodies. <![CDATA[<b>A critique of the discursive conception of democracy</b>]]> The article seeks to contribute to the debate involving the concept of discursive democracy, which developed based on the theory of discourse advanced by Jürgen Habermas. It is argued that in order for this conception to be converted into a theoretical and analytical framework capable of aiding the comprehension of the complex political processes that unfold in contemporary societies and into an alternative for the improvement of existing democratic regimes it must come to terms with a number or questions presented in this article such as the relationship between the ideal deliberative procedure as conceived by its authors and the conditions required for its operation, the question of the place and forums of deliberation and the relationship between deliberation and preference aggregation, as well as dealing more critically with its own assumptions. <![CDATA[<b>Social actors, markets and reciprocity</b>: <b>Convergences between the New Economic Sociology and the "paradigm of the gift"</b>]]> This paper analyzes the interface between economic sociology and economic anthropology, looking for points of convergence between two approaches in the social sciences, New Economic Sociology and the Paradigm of the Gift. It underscores the fruitfulness of such dialogue, at once conjugating efforts to think economic relations beyond the dualism ‘atomized actor versus holism' and indicating a convergent solution: the analysis of exchange relations within social networks. It is also argued that social embeddedness perspectives need be complemented by approaches stressing the cultural and symbolic elements of social interactions.