18 Jun

Research line II - Social-spatial dimension of Exclusion/Integration in the metropolises: comparative studies

Heads of the research line:

Prof. Luiz Antônio Machado – IUPERJ

Prof. Luiz Cesar de Queiroz Ribeiro – IPPUR/UFRJ and Rio de Janeiro Nucleus

Profª. Luciana Teixeira Andrade – Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais and Belo Horizonte nucleus

The initial hypothesis is that socio-spatial processes in progress in Brazilian metropolises are extremely important for the understanding of societal mechanisms of exclusion and integration in view of their effect on the structuring of society, on production/reproduction mechanisms of inequality and interaction and sociability relations between groups and social classes. Such socio-spatial processes are conceptualized in this project as differentiation, segmentation and segregation.

The socio-spatial differentiation derives from the increasing specialization of labor which results from the growth of the social division of labor. This generates differences in attributes, resources, power and status, the material bases for the formation of social classes which tend to look for specific locations in towns, creating the social division of territory. From the standpoint of Durkhenheim´s concept of solidarity the spatialization of social differentiation does not necessarily imply segregation. It may even become a form of societal integration, in so far as the spatial separation of social groups is associated with the existence of systematic links between these different socio-territorial areas. In fact, to use the terminology of human ecology, segregation is a condition for the assimilation and integration process of social groups to society. Through competition processes, the population is segregated in accordance with “natural areas”, understood as units of physical structures of the city. The areas are characterized not only by physic-demographical aspects, but also by attitudes and feelings typical of their dwellers, in areas arbitrarily shaped to suit administrative convenience. It should be noted that, even from a radically distinct perspective, like that of Marxism, social differentiation and its spatialization do not necessarily imply segregation, for these processes are considered the expression of conflicts responsible for the societal integration of antagonistic groups.

The social division of the city may, however, express not only the spatialization of social difference but also social segmentation. This happens when there are barriers preventing the social mobility of individuals between categories. In this case social segmentation will imply the existence of spatial segmentation when these barriers block up territorial mobility― which would transform the social division of the city into residential segregation. This expression must however be reserved to indicate the situation in which social fragmentation is founded on a collectively shared belief in the need to keep― or even to increase― material or symbolic obstacles to the free circulation of individuals between categories and, therefore, between spatial locations.

This notion of the processes of the social organization of space implies the evaluation of social distances in terms of territorial divisions between social groups occupying distinct positions in the social structure, inequalities in living conditions, opportunities deriving from this organization and, finally, the way in which distances/proximities imply interaction and sociability patterns. It is however known that the sociological concept of social distance is problematic, admitting several connotations, depending on the theories supporting them. We have been able to identify at least three distinct meanings, associated with authors that have tried to integrate the concept in a totalizing understanding of social relations. The first comes from E. Bogardus (1925) for whom social distance would denote the intensity of restrictions to social interaction. However, for Sorokin, the phrase “social distance” would express socio-economical differences between groups, especially in terms of income and education, because several factors conditioning the dislocations of families in the urban and metropolitan space are related to the position each occupies in the social hierarchy. The third meaning of the phrase “social distance” follows from the geometric conception of social space as structured by relations regarding power positions between social groups (and not substantive characteristics of people occupying these positions). In accordance with this variant, the territory is conceived as socially objectified space (Bourdieu, 1997:160), expressing positions occupied by social agents in relation to the (total) amount and type (economic, social political and or/ symbolic) of capital, resulting from the differentiated capacity of appropriation of resources invested in them.

In the first phase of the project, Sorokin´s stand has been adopted, which guided the description of socio-spatial structures, their organization dynamics and respective evaluation by a system of socio-occupational categories created on the basis of occupational codes employed by IBGE. At this point, therefore, socio-economical distances between groups have been measured as regards their concentration and dispersion in the territory. As far as occupation is taken as a variable, organized in groups hierarchically placed following dichotomies like direction/execution, manual/non-manual, superior/inferior functions, at the stage of interpretation trying to identify socio-spatial patterns, the analysis comes to be guided by the third conception of social distance.

As regards the expressions “exclusion” and “integration”, the basis for the analyses has been the concept of modes of economic integration formulated by Polanyi (2000) and used by Harvey (1973) in his pioneering study about the city and social justice, and, more recently , by Mingione (1991). We start from the identification of the three spheres of social relations determining the social resources accessible in the planning of neighborhoods and homes. These resources prove essential in processes of integration and exclusion, in so far as they are necessary for full participation in the social life. They come in three different forms of interaction: commercial exchanges, institutional redistribution and inter-personal reciprocity. At least in modern societies, these forms overlap, in typical temporal and spatial combinations which Mingione (1991) calls “social mixes “. It is the position of groups in relation to these mechanisms and the way they present themselves in housing and neighborhood plans that regulates the relations of these integration groups with society as a whole. The analysis of the existence of these forms of integration, their articulation, the dynamic conditions of socio-temporal cohesion or fragmentation make possible to realize if we do or do not face the socio-territorial cohesion or fragmentation of a given metropolis. In most contemporary metropolises of developed countries, we may grant that the market is the dominant sphere of access to resources. However, this sphere coexists with the redistribution effect by regimes of social welfare implanted in these countries. Brazilian metropolises basically result from the predominance of the market spheres and of reciprocity, as we lack a well- established state system of social welfare. This is a highly relevant fact, for the development of an industrial and urban capitalism which creates high income, wealth and power concentration characteristic of the accumulation process in Brazil, has partly been made feasible by the vigorous reciprocity sphere that has its bases in the creation of working-class and popular neighborhoods. These have become genuine hinterlands which supply goods and services meeting ( individual and collective ) reproduction needs not included in the salary .

It may be gathered that the new phenomena of spatial differentiation, segmentation and segregation, related to the crisis in integration relationships with the labor market and to the advancement of cultural modernization (which encourages an individualist ethos) significantly interfere with the institutional bases which support this sphere of integration. This alters the Brazilian “social mix “ and creates exclusion processes, of which the most visible manifestation is the constitution of territories of groups “desafiliated” (Castel, 1995) from society and made vulnerable as regards the possibility or re-creating individual and collective integration dynamics. This situation proves dramatic, considering the reversal, at least in the last fifteen years, of virtuous transformation processes, such as the tendency for universalization of some sectors of social policy, notably in health and education, which, through state action, promote access to resources once exclusively controlled by the rich and powerful. This promise of democratization of opportunities now faces the limitations of real appropriation by social groups owing to the anomic effects of disintegration going on in so far as housing and neighborhood are concerned. This disintegration hinders the reproduction of historically created reciprocity bonds.

On the basis of this frame of references this line of research takes three interdependent dimensions:

(i) Description and analysis of the dynamics and evolution of the social organization in the territory of metropolises- 1980/2000;
(ii) Analysis of the relation between the social organization of the territory of the metropolises and social, urban and environmental inequalities.
(iii) Case studies of types of spaces expressing the social organization of the territory of the metropolises, with a view to a) describing and analyzing the practices and social representations of residents, b) patterns of sociability and social interaction operating in the neighborhood c) the role of the social configuration of the neighborhood and of residents´ practices which may explain certain aspects of inequalities and, d) analyzing the formation of the identity of these unities in relation to practices, representations and interaction patterns and to the public images of these spatial unities, understood as a counterpart to these identities.
(iv) A deeper conceptual and methodological approach to the references that have been supporting the model of the analysis of the phenomena of residential differentiation, segmentation and segregation presented here and the representation of its impact on the social life of the metropolis. The theoretical debate about these questions is ample and multifaceted. It is besides crossed by normative stands concerning the problems discussed, which makes necessary a more direct, specific and systematic treatment of the contents and implications of the different arguments so as to go beyond merely topical and instrumental considerations of elements in these analytical frames


Research line II - Social-spatial dimension of Exclusion/Integration in the metropolises: comparative studies

  • Description and analysis of the dynamics and evolution of the social organization of the territory of the metropolises - 1980/2000

    1. Updating and expansion of the analysis of the social organization of the territories of the metropolises and identification of long- term transformation trends - 1980-2000

    2. Analysis of the relation between the socio-spatial structuring of metropolises and the morphological organization of metropolises

    3. Analysis of the social organization of metropolitan space and residential mobility

    4. Analysis of the relation between the social organization of the metropolitan space and the real estate market

    5. Comparative study of the role of real estate-tourist activities in the transformation of social space of the north-eastern metropolises: Salvador, Recife, Natal and Fortaleza




  • Case Studies

    1. Typologies of ways of life in popular territories in situations of integration, segmentation and spatial segregation

    2. Realization of case studies to evaluate social perceptions and practices in tipical metropolitan fragmentation spaces

    3. Case studies on the “neighborhood effects” and “school effects” in the explanation of the school performance of students in the 4th period of fundamental school.


  • Conceptual and methodological development

    1. How to define and measure segregation

    2. How to identify, measure and state ecological effects in spatial analysis units on families and individuals?

    3. Which theories and data shall we use for understanding the reasons of greater or lesser segregation in the metropolises ?

    4. 4. Public property and policies

    5. 5. How to combine quantitative and qualitative analyses and macro and micro scales in the description and explanation of mechanisms of segregation dynamics and its effects

O laboratório da Coordenação Nacional da Rede INCT Observatório das Metrópoles está temporariamente fechado, por conta do incêndio ocorrido, no começo de outubro, no Prédio da Reitoria da UFRJ.

Pedimos que os contatos sejam realizados pelos seguintes e-mails:

Elizabeth Alves

Assuntos administrativos

Karol de Souza

Assessoria de Comunicação

Breno Procópio

Assuntos Acadêmicos

Juciano Rodrigues