Luiz Vilaça is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and a Kellogg Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. During the 2023-2024 academic year, he will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. In the fall of 2024, he will become an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bowdoin College.
Luiz's research cuts across Sociology of Law, Organizations, and Politics, and seeks to explain the causes of anti-corruption prosecutions. His mixed-methods dissertation examines the case of the Car Wash Operation in Brazil, a series of anti-corruption prosecutions that resulted in the conviction of hundreds of business executives and politicians.
Drawing on document analysis and 110 interviews with prosecutors, detectives, judges, and politicians involved in corruption investigations, the first part of Luiz's dissertation examines why prosecutors turned their attention to corruption and how they built organizational capacities to prosecute corruption at the highest levels of government. Luiz also fielded an online experiment to test how public attitudes toward corruption were affected by the frames that prosecutors use when talking to the media about corruption investigations. Finally, Luiz has built two original datasets of judicial decisions on corruption cases at lower and higher courts. The last part of his dissertation tests how decisions on sentencing and appeals are affected by defendants' party affiliation, as well as by external factors, such as social movement mobilization. See more here.
Luiz's dissertation uses Car Wash as a case to contribute to broader theoretical debates on organizational attention, state-capacity building, framing effects, and social movement outcomes.