In recent decades the peripheries of São Paulo, like other major Brazilian cities, have exhibited seemingly contradictory social and political trends. On one hand incomes have risen, poverty has fallen, and the State has strengthened its presence in the provision of infrastructure and services. On the other hand, informal and illegal economic activity have grown alongside and become deeply intertwined with the formal economy, while practices of violence and social control by both State and non-State actors have also become entrenched. While changes in local institutional structures, social and economic conditions, and patterns of crime and violence in peripheral neighbourhoods over this period have been well documented, less attention has been given to the way these changes have influenced the formation of resident subjectivities. This research project will seek to explore this issue through ethnographic observation and interviews with residents and key informants in the working-class district of Sapopemba in the east of São Paulo. The research will be framed around two questions in particular: 1)What influence do key institutions (eg. agencies of the State, the media, NGOs, the family, religion, work, organised crime), both individually and in relation to one another, have over the practices, attitudes and long-term trajectories of residents in peripheral neighbourhoods?2)How do the uneven influence of these institutions, and the growing social diversity of peripheral neighbourhoods more generally, shape social relations among different residents?In addition to the Brazilian literature on sociability and social reproduction in peripheral neighbourhoods, the analysis will also draw on Bourdieusian, Gramscian and social identity theory perspectives in analysing subjectivity formation at São Paulo's urban periphery.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: