An Interpretative Case Study on the Scalability of Social Information System CadÚnico – The Case of “Bolsa Família” Program


  • Nadja Antonio UNIRIO
  • Marcelo Fornazin National School of Public Health/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and Computation Institute - Federal Fluminense University
  • Renata Araujo Mackenzie Presbiterian University
  • Rodrigo Santos UNIRIO



Bolsa Família, CadÚnico, Interpretative Case Study, Qualitative Analysis, Social Information System, Sociotechnical Approach, Scalability


The Bolsa Família Program is one of the largest income transfer programs in the world. One of its biggest challenges has been the scalability of this social program in a country with continental dimensions such as Brazil. This research work aims how CadÚnico, the information system (IS) that register and store data about the families potentially eligible to the Bolsa Família (BF) have evolved, based on a sociotechnical research approach. Therefore, we carried out an interpretative case study supported by the Actor-Network Theory, information infrastructure and scalability concepts. Finally, for qualitative data analysis, qualitative analysis procedures based on grounded theory (GT) were used. As a result, we have identified categories of technological, political, and geographic scalability, which are interconnected and have promoted the growth of BF since its inception. Thus, we aim to contribute to the IS scientific literature by adding evidence on how the scalability of a Social Information System entails technology, people and processes in a historical, political and organizational context. Finally, we also intend to show how interpretive studies contribute to understanding technical, social and political aspects that pervade IS in the complexity of practical contexts.


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Author Biographies

Nadja Antonio, UNIRIO

Nadja Piedade de Antonio -  - ​    

Phd Candidate and Master of the Graduate Program in Informatics at Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, researching Social IS. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economic Sciences from Federal Fluminense University and a postgraduate degree in Production Engineering from National Institute of Technology. She has been working since 2007 in the systems development area at CAIXA ECONÔMICA FEDERAL and, since 2012, she has been acting as IT Project Coordinator, having experience in managing social and commercial systems.

Marcelo Fornazin, National School of Public Health/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and Computation Institute - Federal Fluminense University

Marcelo Fornazin -​

Adjunct Professor at Computation Institute at Federal Fluminense University and researcher at National School of Public Health/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. Phd degree in Administration from Getúlio Vargas Foundation, holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Computer Science from São Paulo State University. He has experience in the field of Computing, with an emphasis on Information Technology (IT) Management, Electronic Government and Social Computing. He works on the following topics: IT planning and management, systems development, development of information technology solutions in health and education.

Renata Araujo, Mackenzie Presbiterian University

Renata Araujo -

Permanent full-time professor at College of Computing and Informatics at Mackenzie Presbiterian University, São Paulo. Member of the Special Commission on Information Systems at SBC (2010 to present) and Director of Education at SBC (2018-2019). PhD in Systems and Computer Engineering from COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Coordinator of the Research and Innovation Group in Cyber Democracy. Researcher at LUDES - Laboratory of Ludology, Engineering and Simulation at COPPE/UFRJ. Productivity Scholarship in Technological Development and Innovative Extension from CNPq. He has more than 20 years of experience in teaching, research, technological development and innovation in the field of computing, with an emphasis on IS, working on the themes: government and digital democracy, innovation management, business process management, software engineering and collaborative systems.

Rodrigo Santos, UNIRIO

Rodrigo Pereira dos Santos. -

Adjunct Professor at the Department of Applied Informatics and effective member of the Graduate Program in Informatics at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO). PhD in Systems and Computer Engineering from COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and visiting researcher at University College London (2014-2015). He is editor-in-chief of iSys: Revista Brasileira de Sistemas de Informação. He has been a member of the Brazilian Computer Society (BCS) since 2006 and a member of the Management Committee of the Special Commission on Information Systems of BCS. He has experience in Computer Science, with an emphasis on Software Engineering and Information Systems. His main fields of expertise are Software Ecosystems, Requirements Engineering, Software Engineering Education and Software Acquisition and IT Services. He has given short courses at SBSI, CLEI, SBIE, CBSoft, SBGames, SBQS, Webmedia, IHC, CIbSE and ICTAC, in addition to several regional events.


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How to Cite

Antonio, N., Fornazin, M., Araujo, R., & Santos, R. (2021). An Interpretative Case Study on the Scalability of Social Information System CadÚnico – The Case of “Bolsa Família” Program. ISys - Brazilian Journal of Information Systems, 14(4), 100–130.



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