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We're from the favela but we're not favelados: the intersection of race, space, and violence in Northeastern Brazil

Johnson, Christopher M. (2012) We're from the favela but we're not favelados: the intersection of race, space, and violence in Northeastern Brazil. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In Salvador da Bahia's high crime/violence peripheral neighbourhoods, black youth are perceived as criminals levying high social costs as they attempt to acquire employment, enter university, or political processes. Low-income youth must overcome the reality of violence while simultaneously confronting the support, privileged urban classes have for stricter law enforcement and the clandestine acts of death squads. As youth from these neighbourhoods begin to develop more complex identities some search for alternative peer groups, social networks and social programmes that will guide them to constructive life choices while others consign themselves to options that are more readily available in their communities. Fast money and the ability to participate in the global economy beyond ‘passive’ engagement draws some youth into crime yet the majority choose other paths. Yet, the majority use their own identities to build constructive and positive lives and avoid involvement with gangs and other violent social groups. Drawing from Brazil's racial debates started by Gilberto Freyre, findings from this research suggest that while identity construction around race is ambiguous, specific markers highlight one's identity making it difficult to escape negative associations with criminality and violence. The discourse surrounding social capital suggests that such individuals can rely on it to overcome these problems. However social capital is used more often as a tool to spatially and socially segregate and consolidate power and opportunity among the powerful and well-connected. That race does not contribute significantly to the debate misses key elements in how social relationships develop and are maintained. This research was conducted over the period of ten months in a peripheral neighbourhood in Salvador through a community social development programme. The study used a mixed qualitative methodology that was part ethnographic examining social networks and protective factors that assist young people at risk from becoming involved in crime or violence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Christopher M Johnson
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Jones, Gareth A.

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