The project aims to study the interurban dynamics of the city of São Paulo, considering the social and spatial transformations, population flows, cultural manifestations and the main hurdles to the implementation of public policies aimed at the urban well-being of the population that lives in the center of the biggest metropolitan region of Brazil. We also intend to point out the importance of metropolitan regions to think about the present and the future of the Brazilian urbanization process and to identify the mechanisms that generate hindrances and advances in the conditions of urban welfare and social vulnerability.

KEYWORDS: São Paulo, social inequalities, urban social policies, population flows, cultural manifestations, territories and otherness


T he social, cultural, economic and political organization of the great metropolises of the world are of paramount importance to understand and reflect on the challenges to be faced by big cities, centers of economic, social and political power at various scales. In the face of the technological, social, cultural and economic transformations that have taken place since the second half of the 1970s – especially those resulting from globalization and productive restructuring – we notice that the center of metropolitan areas, of which São Paulo is a paradigmatic example, have become the essential locus of both the potentialities and the contradictions produced from that period. In particular, the population displacements that occur in the 21st century bring new challenges to the metropolises in the interpretation and confrontation of social issues, among them the constitution of territories, the production of otherness and access to public policies.

The project that resulted in this platform intended to suggest, by way of the study that has been carried out, a more constructive and preventive form of intervention, building new scales of scope for public policies, aiming to guarantee access to the city and to citizenship, in the perspective of access to social protection and social rights, as well as visual, musical and literary manifestations giving visibility to another possible social order.


1. The right to the city: urban welfare and inequalities

T he current reality in the major Brazilian cities has shown significant social inequalities manifested territorially, taking into account the maintenance of the classical pattern of social organization of the territory characterized by the center-periphery model, as the Observatory of Metropolises’ surveys have proven (Bógus and Pasternak, 2015). This means that the classes or social groups that present the best social conditions in terms of income, education and occupational position are those that appropriate urban spaces of better urban conditions in terms of infrastructure and public services. On the other hand, the classes or social groups that present the worst social conditions occupy the most precarious urban spaces of the city.

Considering the ongoing processes in the city of São Paulo, it is important to continue the studies on residential segregation and transformations in the configuration of the intra-urban space, in terms of the aspects of the resident population and the main deficiencies in the urban well-being conditions. The city’s districts selected for study were the ones that underwent important changes in their population composition over the last decade, considering as central variables occupation, schooling and income, obtained from census information. The starting point was the hypothesis that the observed changes in the profiles of the residents are accompanied by actions of the real estate market agents (related to the appreciation or the relative depreciation) and by the infrastructure supply, with impacts on the position of the neighborhoods in the “social hierarchy” of the city.

Also within this thematic area, the project developed during the years 2011 to 2014 on the impacts of the hosting of the 2014 World Cup in São Paulo went on. At that moment, the data confirmed the expansion of the economic frontier of the globalized economy over the territory of the city of São Paulo’s East Side, evidencing the process of reconversion of its historically industrial territory into a service territory, mostly dealing with supporting activities. The research problem of this subproject was to retrace the history of the industrialization of the East Side through the memory of its workers confronting (meeting/disagreement/conflict) with the East Side of services that takes over the territory.

2. Territories, displacements and immigrations in the city of São Paulo

This thematic area aimed to study the territoriality of immigrants in the city of São Paulo, unfolding into two subprojects:

2.1 Territories and displacements in the city of São Paulo

Stories and Memories from Portuguese Immigrants. The purpose of this subproject was to search the Portuguese territories in the city of São Paulo, based on the analysis of the institutionalization of this territoriality focusing on the Casa de Portugal (House of Portugal), Casa dos Açores (House of the Azores) and Casa da Ilha da Madeira (House of the Island of Madeira).

By doing this, we intended to restore the historical trajectory of these associations (understanding associative practice as a practice of identity struggle), by way of oral interviews with immigrants who still attend associations, tracking individual and collective trajectories, contributing to a better understanding of the history, memory and culture that was inscribed in the urban space of São Paulo. Therefore, it will be possible to better understand how these individuals collaborated to the transformations in the urban dynamics they became part of.

2.2 Territories, alterity and access to the public policies for Bolivian, African and Haitian immigrants

This subproject sought to analyze the immigrant groups, notably Bolivians, Africans and Haitians who recently have required the city of São Paulo, unveiling new flows, their motivation and their location in the city, highlighting the labor and housing market insertion, with emphasis on the relations of alterity and vulnerability in some segments.

In times of transmigration, the 21st century brings new territorialities, which are shifting, as well as spaces of both segregation and support to relationship networks, with bridges supporting the customs and culture of origin, sociability transformations and identity constructions. The situation of being on the fringes applies to certain groups in the hosting society as to the production of alterity, the difficulty of access to public policies and vulnerability. The presence of undocumented immigrants, language difficulties, housing and labor rights, lack of access to social policies, depending on the specificities of the immigrant group, are some of the indications of vulnerability.

The study also involved issues related to interculturality and ethnicity in the context of the right to the city and the urban situation experienced.

3. Cultural manifestations with new aesthetics, new social propositions and the reinvention of the public space
3.1 Cultural manifestations and their new flows retraced by the new communicational processes of a new aesthetic

This thematic area of the present project seeks to analyze how the diverse cultural manifestations and their flows distributed in the topology of São Paulo configure identity specificities, both of the places and of its people, and thus construct ways of sociability that dynamize the social bonds as they produce new forms of crossing the territoriality that corroborate the emergence of different meanings of belonging in the city of São Paulo. From the survey of cultural manifestations and their flows and the analysis of their generation of meaning, it also seeks to develop a cartography of these flows on a metropolitan scale, in order to contribute to a greater understanding of how their dynamics interfere or not in the social fabric.

In order to examine this problematization, the following corpus was selected: flows that involve the act of dressing (composed of both the sale and consumption of clothing as well as the actual dressing bodies going around public streets, and even occasional parades that may occur, such as Periferia Inventando Moda (Periphery Setting Fashion Trends) or Marcha do Orgulho Crespo (Afro Hair Pride March), the flows that involve eating (sale and consumption of food products that, in certain places, promote a great circulation of people through the formation of a characteristic gastronomic “circuit” that projects the groups), the flows of new mobilities in the city (ways of getting around the city beyond the car, facilities and hurdles, life practices from different modes, etc.), the flows of visual manifestations of visibility (visual manifestations such as pichações and pixações (tagging artwork), among other types of visual manifestations of the most varied formats, massively occupying the public space, concentrated mainly on the roads that are bustling with people (cultural gatherings with or without the support of public authorities), the flows of musical manifestations, and, finally, other flows of creative collectives that take to the streets and break the institutional limits, finding in the collective experiences of the city autonomous forms of action in which creative practices are used as social and political tools.

3.2 The “artistic occupation” movement in the city of São Paulo

Apotentiality of recreating public spaces? It seeks to analyze specifically the relationship between artistic manifestations and the configuration of “public spaces”, in the conception of Hanna Arendt, spaces in which people meet for the common search of resistance against what threatens them, and in the conception of Espinosa, ethical/affective spaces that favor the feeling of the common (the capacity to feel and to act with the other). Such an approach is justified by the need to analyze critically the ethical and political quality of the effects that these cultural manifestations promote in the territories. Marx has pointed out that entertainment and leisure are vital to human metabolism, but he also said that they can operate as a strategy to increase workforce productivity and to secure social control. Another risk is that they may become new forms of favoring the molecularization of the social sphere into ghettos. To this intent, it selects as the focus of analysis the self-titled movement of “artistic occupation”, characterized by social criticism and it acts by taking art to the periphery, through the appropriation of public or private spaces, be they abandoned or idle, understanding art as a way of exercising human rights and revolutionary political action.

3.3 Young people, culture and politics: urbanities, flows, appropriations, uses

Young people are a segment of the population that is especially affected by the very rapid changes in the outlook of Brazilian society, particularly in the daily life of the city of São Paulo. It becomes a challenge to understand their codes and their ways of living, intertwined with a sense of urgency and fearlessness, the tensions between audacities and unrests, hopes and uncertainties, inclusion
ns and exclusions. Living the/in the city of São Paulo and experiencing the inevitable set of contradictions – class, ethnicity, gender, cultural capital, refugee status/life situation – implies confronting access barriers and exclusion mechanisms, but also the search for the possible inclusive gaps.

It is possible to notice in recent years a significant protagonism of young people and youth collectives, “more or less” autonomous, “more or less” institutionalized that “speak up”, define places, mark territories and respond by forms of occupation – whether consensual or insidious – of the spaces in the metropolis. They interfere in the urban issue and allow the emergence of conflicts between the public and private spheres. They create tensions in the relation between legitimacies and (non-)legitimacies and expand the possibilities of political actions and practices “outside” the strictly institutional scope. They turn spaces of prejudice and stigma into “places of their own”: possible places of empowerment, of learning, of unique experiences; places of boundary between the known and what is to be understood; places of flows, identities/pluralities. They propose new forms of manifestation, which merge “participation” and “activism”. They express themselves by the mixture between culture, aesthetics, consumption and politics, and demand new frames of reference of epistemological, theoretical and methodological bases for their understanding and interpretation.

Therefore, our purpose is the construction of cartographies capable of locating/interpreting the flows of production, appropriation and use by young people and youth collectives in the city of São Paulo, with emphasis on the forms of articulation between cultural and political actions/manifestations.

4. Population flows regarding access to Social Assistance and Housing policies

This thematic area is based on the studies that have been carried out by the Coordinating Body for Studies and Development of Special Projects – CEDEPE/PUC-SP, as well as service provisions implemented in the scope of the management of social policies (especially in the fields of social assistance and housing). These actions have revealed in an intriguing way the difficulties and barriers that hinder or block the access to rights and the effective social inclusion of the population (and especially the low-income population) in public services. The availability and offer of services are not enough to guarantee the access of this segment, because other aspects determine their inclusion and the use of the offered provisions: configuration of needs, behavior of individuals and their families in the face of problems, as well as the structure and ways of organizing available resources. The organization of the access to services is one of the main issues to be addressed, considering the various Brazilian municipalities, with unequal social and economic development levels, heterogeneous structures, organizations and institutions, as well as different population groups in situations of a greater or lesser degree of social inclusion. There is a sort of mismatch between the institutional logic of public social services and the trajectories of families seeking access to services, as well as the social and territorial logic of the various districts of the city of São Paulo.

The present study aimed to operate in a narrower dimension of analysis, following the daily routes operated by the population during their social practices and access to social services, under the references of accessibility and mobility, having as a privileged focus of analysis the social assistance and housing policies.

The construction of the cartography proposed by this project seeks to subsidize the processes of elaboration of monitoring indicators and assessment of accessibility for such policies, from the perspective of guaranteeing access to the city and to citizenship, in a broader way than the conventional reference of belonging by home address. In addition to the study of census information, priority was given to the study of Cadastro Único (Unique Registration), a platform for data on the potential target of Brazilian social policies (and especially used in housing and social assistance policies), which presents a rich body of information still little analyzed, from the point of view of their connection with the territories where the registered families live. We can also verify that there is a high index of address changes of these families. In this way, the analysis of the flows could have as initial references the existing databases for registration of families and services, as well as programs and social benefits that already exist in the territories of the city. The construction of a foundation based on the search for flows and access barriers, guidelines, regulations, organizational arrangements and service offerings may help to develop actions to broaden the scope of social protection and implement actions that effectively reduce inequalities.

5. Urban space, real-time communication and mobility crisis: social-historical significance of the rush-hour as a metropolitan symptom of the transpolitical condition

This subproject was dedicated to the relationships between the urban space, real-time communication practices and the political dimension of social life, notably during rush-hour periods in big contemporary cities. The exponential focus of the study is São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil and Latin America, and the third most economically wealthy city in the world. São Paulo is the most complex territorial and sociocultural symbol of simultaneous crossing of all types of flow (of people and animals, goods and things, individual and collective vehicles, information and images, business and interests, etc.). In rush-hour periods, several of these flows experience not only reduction of speed and scale, but also a paralysis, with all the unfavorable consequences. From the angle of freedom, a rush of flows, due to its extreme and reversal saturation, is a metropolitan crash: the rush-hour, a major moment of urban asphyxiation, represents, on the edge, total unfeasibility of the sociocultural, political-economic and ethical promise of the city as a historical invention. At the rush-hour, while city life enters into an insoluble drama and converts every citizen [who constructs it] into an involuntary hostage, electronic communication, instantaneous, reigns, presenting itself not only as a viable and authentic solution, but, paradoxically, definitive; it is worthwhile to say that, while metropolitan processes are in a crash, communication remains absolutely fluid, self-legitimizing its structural function in collective life, beyond its own symbolic production. The pan-topic apex of electronic communication since the twentieth century, represented by the excess of its presence in a sociomediatic tendency that is no longer local or global but rather glocal, is inseparable from the spectacularized accident of urban mobility, sitting beyond the point of its possibility of redemptive reversal: metropolitan exasperation, through the constraint of its road network, fuels the diversified expansion of the socio-technological processes of glocalization (mass and interactive, including georeferencing resources), increasing the diuturnal recycling of the informative spiral in this respect.

The main objectives of the subproject were (1) to reflect on the sociohistorical significance of the rush of flows and its metropolitan crash, extracting from its phenomenological existence and its seemingly fatal nature all the consequences for institutional policy as a reasonable pragmatic instance (and currently powerless) of proposing adequate solutions to the needs, vicissitudes and challenges of a cosmopolitan city like São Paulo; and (2) dissect the role of real-time communication in this sociohistorical condition, based on the mapping of glocal practices and the media resources involved.

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