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Title: Favela, network and identity in a complex city : a comparative neighbourhood study in Rio de Janeiro
Author: Richmond, Matthew Aaron
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 2842
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Although they continue to suffer from high levels of poverty, exclusion, and stigmatisation, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas have undergone significant processes of social transformation and diversification in recent years. Notable trends include rising incomes, increased state investment and changing patterns of security and violence. However, these trends vary significantly both within and between different favelas, presenting a major analytical challenge for researchers. In particular they raise the question of how to conceive the causal dynamics shaping social conditions and individual outcomes in favelas in terms of scale, process, and agency. This thesis seeks to respond to this question, presenting qualitative research undertaken in two contrasting favelas that exhibit diverse and contradictory trends. Using a relational comparative methodological approach it conceives these case studies as both comparable and interconnected within common systems that shape them materially and symbolically. While drawing on the insights from political economy approaches, the thesis proposes an ‘urban social complexity’ analytical model, which views favelas as shaped by complex interactions between various processes, both economic and non-economic, across different scales. This model mobilises the key analytical concepts of 'complexity' - interactions between multiple entities that drive emergent and non-linear forms of development - and 'assemblage' - the coming together of these entities into stable and knowable configurations. Using this framework, it is argued that Rio’s favelas are powerfully shaped by a set of spatially sensitive "urban processes" that are interlinked but loosely assembled at the city scale, meaning they can intersect in unpredictable ways in different favelas. Although they transcend the local scale, these processes empower some local actors, like politicians and armed groups, to exercise influence over the neighbourhood. Residents, meanwhile, may seek to use their social networks to mitigate the risks and distribute the resources and opportunities that arise, albeit within tight constraints. At the individual level, resident identities appear to be tied in complex ways to the relationship between favelas and dominant power structures. These manifest in the formation of 'boundaries' within the neighbourhood, which have implications for social relations and individual trajectories. Overall, the spatialised nature of urban processes, social networks and identities asserts the need to see the neighbourhood scale as important, while still recognising its constant and complex interactions with more powerful structures and processes at higher scales.
Supervisor: Hamnett, Christopher ; Garmany, Jeffrey Todd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available