António Barreto was born in October 30, 1942, in Foz do Douro, Porto. He completed primary school and high school in Vila Real. He attended the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra from 1960 to 1963. He lived in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1963 to 1974, as a political exiled. While in Geneva, he concluded his degree in Sociology from the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the University of Geneva in 1968. He returned to Portugal in 1974. In his academic career he has been a member of the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (lecturer in sociology), of the Gabinete de Estudos Rurais, Universidade Católica Portuguesa (researcher), of the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (researcher) and of the Faculdade de Direito, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (member of the Installing Commission and a lecturer in sociology). He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Geneva, in 1985. He has been mainly a researcher and a full member of the Institute of Social Sciences since 1982.
His main topics of interest are: change and development of Portuguese society; social indicators; the State and Public Administration; the Welfare State; political behaviours; and the Douro region.
He has coordinated (along with Maria Filomena Mónica) the publication of three volumes of "Dicionário de História de Portugal".
He is the author of "Anatomia de uma Revolução"; "Os silêncios do regime"; "Tempo de mudança"; "Tempo de incerteza"; "A situação social em Portugal, 1960-1999" (two volumes).
He was responsible for a television series of documentaries entitled "Portugal, a social portrait" (directed by Joana Pontes). He was also responsible for the documentaries "Us and television" and "Television and power" (directed by Joana Pontes).
His academic career was interrupted twice, from 1975 to 1978, to carry out political functions (deputy in the Constituent Assembly, State Secretary of Foreign Trade, Minister for Tourism and Trade, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries) and from 1985 to 1991 (deputy in the Assembly of the Republic)
For thirty years, he has been collaborating with written press and television. He has been a colonist for the daily newspaper "Público" since 1991.
He was awarded the Montaigne Prize in 2004. In 2008, he was elected to be a member of the Academy of Sciences.
In 2007 and 2008, his main projects refer to conducting documentaries about the results of his researches. Thus, he has finished a seven episode series entitled "Portugal, a social portrait" and two documentaries on "the social consequences of television in Portugal, 1956-2006". In 2008, he has been involved in the production of a documentary (feature film) about the Douro Region, its social history and present situation.