Dissertation Abstracts

The right to the periphery: experiences of social mobility and struggle for citizenship among São Paulo’s peripheries workers

Author: Leonardo O Fontes, leo.ofontes@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Supervisor: Alba Zaluar
Year of completion: 2018
Language of dissertation: Brasil

Keywords: Citizenship , Social mobility , Periphery , São Paulo
Areas of Research: Social Transformations and Sociology of Development , Social Classes and Social Movements , Stratification


The purpose of this thesis is to discuss the experience of São Paulo’s periphery dwellers around the struggle for social mobility and the conquest of citizenship over the last three generations. The starting point of this research is the debate on the recent social mobility process that took place in Brazil that brought substantial changes in the economic conditions and access to formal schooling for lower classes, especially between the mid-2000’s and the first half of the 2010’s. However, at the urban level, especially in the case of São Paulo, this social mobility meant neither geographic mobility for central regions of the city nor immediate access to better public services and urban infrastructure. The result is the remaining exclusion of a large part of the population of the rights consolidated in the idea of “right to the city” despite their economic improvements. Throughout a mix-method research that combined quantitative methods with ethnographic techniques in two peripheral neighborhoods of São Paulo, it was sought to investigate the changes and continuities in the peripheral population’s way of life towards the modifications in their standard of living. Thus, the thesis analysis the most remarkable elements of these people’s way of life, such as: the process of migration to the city, the struggle for inclusion in the labor market, the constitution of social movements, the increase in urban violence and the various cultural manifestations that these actors produce as a way of expressing their political and personal plans and projects. In the end, the idea of “right to the periphery” is proposed as a category capable of comprehend the demands of these actors around the struggle for the recognition of their status as full citizens in urban territory, that is, as holders of the “right to have rights”.