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Government Advertising, Political Behavior, and Electoral Effects in Brazil

Hoepers, Bruno (2020) Government Advertising, Political Behavior, and Electoral Effects in Brazil. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Political communication and advertising are not performed only by politicians and parties. Governments around the world also invest in advertising at the national, subnational, and local levels. However, the study of government advertising has deserved little-to-no attention in political science. In this dissertation, I aim at filling this gap and try to answer four interrelated questions. First, what is the content of government advertising? Second, how does government advertising affect citizens’ political attitudes and behavior? Third, what factors explain governments’ expenditures with advertising? Fourth, does government advertising have political impacts on outcomes that matter for incumbent governments, more particularly electoral outcomes? This dissertation shows how government advertising matters by using Brazil as a case to be studied. Here, I argue that incumbent governments invest in advertising with the goal of building a reputation for accomplishments and also to signal effort to the electorate. Concerning the impact on attitudes and behaviors, I contend that government advertising and partisan advertising interact with the information environment to realize effects on voters.
The dissertation is organized around a literature review on government advertising, a theoretical chapter, and four empirical chapters. The first empirical chapter carries out a content analysis of more than 400 ads from the state of Minas Gerais and its municipal governments and proposes a classification scheme for government ads. The second conducts an online survey experiment on 1,800 Brazilians to verify how government advertising affects the attitudes and behaviors of voters. The third chapter studies the determinants of and the impact of government advertising spending at the subnational level, in the state of Minas Gerais. Finally, the fourth empirical chapter analyzes the impact of government advertising in Brazilian municipalities and takes into account the effect of government advertising in conjunction with campaign spending.
The results show that government advertising matters politically, with relevant impacts on incumbent’s vote share, turnout, and other measures of campaign effects in the experimental inquiry. The study has implications for the study of political communications, campaign effects, campaign spending, and incumbency (dis)advantage. It also helps understand better the Brazilian competitive political system.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoepers, Brunobruno.hoepers@gmail.combrh630000-0002-6336-4368
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairFinkel, Stevenfinkel@pitt.edufinkel0000-0002-9391-2732
Committee CoChairMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.edusmorgens0000-0001-7258-8657
Committee MemberVazquez, Pablo Fernandezpablo.fernandezvz@gmail.com0000-0003-1296-1936
Committee MemberDesposato, Scottdesposato@gmail.com0000-0001-7722-1766
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 July 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 13 September 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 295
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brazil, elections, political behavior, campaign spending, reelection, government advertising
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 14:03
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 14:03


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