Social movements in developing countries need to be contextualized by examining how the concrete experiences of their participants affect dispositions toward mobilization around particular issues and influence the role of various social relationships and alliances for such social movements. Histories of clientelism and dependency may lead to different alliance structures and organizational strategies than those associated with New Social Movements in other parts of the world. This study seeks to understand how histories and everyday experiences in rural communities affect social movements seeking redistribution of power and material resources in the context of economic and political liberalization. I will examine the specific cases of three communities in the state of Ceara, in Northeastern Brazil, and the role of different institutions and actors, including small farmers and landless workers, large landholders, Unions, the Landless Movement, NGO and religious workers and agents of local, state and federal governments in creating a movement for agrarian reform and alternative rural futures. This research fits within plans for a comparative study of similar experiences in Mexico.