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Occupying the illegal city: Urban social movements and transgressive citizenship in Sao Paulo.

Earle, Lucy Olivia (2009) Occupying the illegal city: Urban social movements and transgressive citizenship in Sao Paulo. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is based on a case study of a Brazilian urban social movement that campaigns for state provision of low-income housing and that posits its demands in the language of citizenship and social rights. It makes a contribution to the study of state-society relations by detailing how understandings of citizenship shape the movement's interaction with different levels of the Brazilian state. The empirical data on which the thesis is based was gathered over the course of a year's fieldwork with the movement, involving participant observation and approximately seventy semi-structured interviews with movement leaders and members, politicians and professionals associated with the movement. It examines the activities of the movement in the context of Sao Paulo, a city characterized by high levels of income inequality, spatial segregation and illegally occupied land. Analysis of the movement's discourse highlights the link made by members and leaders between adequate housing and citizenship and their continued highly antagonistic stance towards the Brazilian state. Through the use of a 'politics of rights' the movement stresses the disjuncture between the constitutional right to housing and the state's wilful neglect of the housing needs of its poorer populations, developing the idea of limited citizenship. The movement's interactions with the state are then discussed in light of this disjuncture: these involve engagement in participatory policy councils, pursuit of legal cases against the state and acts of civil disobedience through occupations of empty buildings. The study concludes that in a context of illegality and exclusion it is through acts of 'transgressive citizenship' that the movement establishes its identity vis-a-vis the state and most successfully highlights the state's failure to provide housing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, Public Administration
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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