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Home page > Research Teams > The SLUM Team - Public policies regarding urban poverty: the "treatment" of the slum problem, a comparison between Delhi, Sao Paulo, Rio and Mumbai > Methods of Research

Methods of Research

Territorial approach

Slums, which are situated outside municipal limits (the majority in Sao Paulo), or take root in the narrow spaces between affluent districts (as in the case of Delhi and Mumbai or on the hills in the centre of Rio), develop an entire economy in interaction with the urban fabric. In this context, the model establishing a dichotomy between the centre and the periphery seems to have made way for a complex socio-spatial model juxtaposing pockets of poverty and affluent “gated communities”. The processes of segregation taking place in each of these areas will be studied in great detail.

Social and political approach

We will characterise the type of social policy embodied in these programmes: rather coercive, repressive or progressive. Analysing these programmes and their success or failure will reveal the political and social stakes involved. Some programmes are not viable even at the time of their conception, e.g. exclusion of the poorest due to eligibility conditions. Constraints related to the conjuncture also explain some failures (corruption, financial problems, etc.). Above all, it is not certain if policies related to slums really delve into the roots of social exclusion which need to be defined: inequality of labour relations, discrimination on ethnic grounds, etc.

Legal approach

Laws and ordinances construct notions of illegality and legality, encroachment, authorised and unauthorised colonies, public space, notions which impact on the ‘‘right” to reside, especially for the poor. Further, the emergence of the judiciary as an actor in the field of urban governance, particularly through legal proceedings and judgements, may go against the government’s urban policies. On the one hand, we will analyse the wording of specific acts that may reveal interventionist urban policies, as well as related rules and laws and judgements delivered by the Courts. Also examined shall be official planning documents. We will then analyse the real estate situation in order to assess regularisation measures and question existing laws and their ability to prevent the gentrification (Expulsao branca) taking place in Brazil and, more generally, the state’s ability to find tools other than expropriation for the purpose of regularisation.

Finally, it will be necessary to highlight (together with sub-project 2) the importance of the ecological problem underlying access to land. For instance, eradication of slums has taken place in India following public interest litigation suits filed by the middle classes on environmental grounds.


The combination of these three approaches will enable us to study public programmes and what they reveal in terms of the concept of urban space and its management. We will undertake three methodological choices in the first stage:

- Determining the period under study: if some programmes are dependent on a decree or a political personality and often drawn up to deal with an emergency, an ideological option, a favourable budget, it will be nevertheless necessary to try and pinpoint the long-term rationale.
- Demarcation of the space to be studied: our spatial sample will include slums which exemplify specific programmes recently implemented.
- Methods of collecting and presenting data will depend on the approach. Thus a territorial approach will be supported by a theoretical reflection aimed at defining the key concepts of the study. We will take up in particular the notions of territory, segregation, boundary areas and pockets of poverty / affluence while giving adequate importance to cartographic tools to support a geo-sociological analysis of the segregation processes. The major part of the data for the social approach will be collected first-hand from among the population of favelados or slum-dwellers: the research will be qualitative and conducted with the help of semi-open questionnaires and interviews.

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Social Exclusion, Territories and Urban Policies
A Comparison Between India and Brazil

A Research Programme funded by ANR
Website kindly hosted by Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi

Last Update :  Tuesday 22 December 2009

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