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Narratives of Crisis in the Periphery of São Paulo: Place and Political Articulation during Brazil's Rightward Turn

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2020

Matthew Aaron Richmond*
Affiliation:
Visiting Fellow, Latin American and Caribbean Centre (LACC), London School of Economics and Postdoctoral Researcher, Grupo de Pesquisa Produção do Espaço e Redefinições Regionais (GAsPERR), Universidade Estadual Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil.
*
*Corresponding author. Email: Matthew.aaron.richmond@gmail.com

Abstract

Between 2014 and 2018, a period marked by major political and economic upheaval, Brazilian politics shifted sharply to the Right. Presenting qualitative research conducted over 2016–17, this article examines this process from the perspectives of residents of a peripheral São Paulo neighbourhood. Analysis is presented of three broad groups of respondents, each of which mobilised a distinct narrative framework for interpreting the crisis. Based on this, I argue that the rightward turn in urban peripheries embodies not a significant ideological shift, but rather long-term transformations of place and the largely contingent ways these articulate with electoral politics.

Spanish abstract

Spanish abstract

Entre 2014 y 2018, un periodo marcado por grandes convulsiones políticas y económicas, la política de Brasil se desplazó marcadamente hacia la derecha. Apoyándose en investigación cualitativa realizada en 2016–17, este artículo examina dicho proceso desde la perspectiva de residentes de un vecindario periférico de São Paulo. Se presenta el análisis de tres grupos, cada uno con un marco narrativo distinto para interpretar la crisis. Basado en ello, argumento que el giro hacia la derecha en las periferias urbanas no representa un desplazamiento ideológico significativo, sino más bien evidencia las transformaciones a largo plazo del lugar y las formas inciertas con las que estas se articulan con la política electoral.

Portuguese abstract

Portuguese abstract

Entre 2014 e 2018, um período marcado por grande instabilidade política e econômica, a política brasileira deslocou-se acentuadamente para a direita. Por meio da apresentação de uma pesquisa qualitativa realizada em 2016–17, este artigo examina tal processo a partir da perspectiva de residentes de um bairro da periferia de São Paulo. A análise apresentada vem de três variados grupos de entrevistados, cada um com um quadro narrativo diferente para interpretar a crise. Baseado nisso, argumento que a guinada à direita em periferias urbanas não necessariamente representa uma mudança ideológica significativa, mas sim o resultado de longas transformações de lugar e as maneiras contingentes como elas articulam com a política eleitoral.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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Footnotes

I would like to thank Leandro Carneiro de Souza, Deocleciana Ferreira and Erlandy da Cruz Silva for their invaluable help in the field. I would also like to thank Carly Barboza Machado, colleagues at the Centro de Estudos da Metrópole and the JLAS editors and anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of the paper. I am indebted to Rogério Jerônimo Barbosa and Valéria Cristina Oliveira for their assistance with the census data. The research was funded by a postdoctoral grant from the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), grant no. 2015/14480-0.

References

1 ‘Datafolha de 27 de outubro para presidente por sexo, idade, escolaridade, renda, região e religião’, G1, 27 Oct. 2018, https://g1.globo.com/politica/eleicoes/2018/eleicao-em-numeros/noticia/2018/10/27/datafolha-de-27-de-outubro-para-presidente-por-sexo-idade-escolaridade-renda-regiao-e-religiao.ghtml (last accessed 18 Dec. 2019).

2 The peripheries of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre show roughly similar voting trends between 2002 and 2018. See: Almeida, Alberto Carlos, O voto do brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Record, 2018)Google Scholar; Rodrigo Menegat and Cecília do Lago, ‘Como votou sua vizinhança? Explore o mapa mais detalhado das eleições’, Estadão, 27 Oct. 2018, https://www.estadao.com.br/infograficos/politica,como-votou-sua-vizinhanca-explore-o-mapa-mais-detalhado-das-eleicoes,935858 (last accessed 18 Dec. 2019).

3 For example, Abramo, Fundação Perseu, Percepções e valores políticos nas periferias de São Paulo (São Paulo: Pesquisas FPA, 2017)Google Scholar.

4 Almeida, Maria H. T. and Guarnieri, Fernando H., ‘Towards a (Poor) Middle-Class Democracy? Upward Mobility and Politics under Lula and Dilma’, in Kingstone, Peter R. and Power, Timothy J. (eds.), Democratic Brazil Divided (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016), pp. 175–90Google Scholar; Bastos, Fabrício H. Chagas, ‘Electoral Realignment and Economic Change among Brazil's “New Middle Class”’, Latin American Politics and Society, 57: 3 (2015), pp. 147–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Neri, Marcelo, A nova classe média: O lado brilhante da base da pirâmide (Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2011)Google Scholar.

6 Francis Fukuyama, ‘The Middle-Class Revolution’, The Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2013, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323873904578571472700348086 (last accessed 18 Dec. 2019); ‘The New Middle Classes Rise Up: Marx's Revolutionary Bourgeoisie Finds its Voice Again’, The Economist, 3 Sept. 2011, https://www.economist.com/briefing/2011/09/03/the-new-middle-classes-rise-up (last accessed 18 Dec. 2019).

7 Fundação Perseu Abramo, Percepções e valores.

8 Pochman, Márcio, Nova classe média? O trabalho social na base da pirâmide social brasileira (São Paulo: Boitempo, 2012)Google Scholar; Souza, Jessé, Os batalhadores brasileiros: Nova classe média ou nova classe trabalhadora? (Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, 2012)Google Scholar.

9 Braga, Ruy, ‘Para onde vai o precariado brasileiro? Sindicalismo e hegemonia no Brasil contemporâneo’, Perseu, 10 (2013), pp. 3554Google Scholar.

10 Souza, Os batalhadores brasileiros, pp. 199–257.

11 Singer, André, Os sentidos do lulismo: Reforma gradual e pacto conservador (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012)Google Scholar; see also do Amaral, Oswaldo E. and Power, Timothy J., ‘The PT at 35: Revisiting Scholarly Interpretations of the Brazilian Workers’ Party’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 48 (2015), pp. 147–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Singer, André, O Lulismo em crise: Uma quebra cabeça do período Dilma (2011–2016) (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018)Google Scholar.

13 de Almeida, Ronaldo, ‘Bolsonaro presidente: Conservadorismo, evangelismo e a crise brasileira’, Novos Estudos CEBRAP, 38: 1, pp. 185213Google Scholar.

14 An interesting aspect of this phenomenon is that many antipetistas identify as ‘independent’ voters and express a preference for broadly centre–left policies, suggesting that their position has more to do with negative perceptions of the PT than with ideological objections to its policy agenda. See Borges, André and Vidigal, Robert, ‘Do lulismo ao antipetismo? Polarização, partidarismo e voto nas eleições presidenciais brasileiras’, Opinião Pública, 24: 1 (2018), pp. 5384CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Almeida, ‘Bolsonaro presidente’, p. 206.

16 Caldeira, Teresa P. R., ‘Peripheral Urbanization: Autoconstruction, Transversal Logics, and Politics in Cities of the Global South’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35: 1 (2017), pp. 320CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Feltran, Gabriel S., Fronteiras de tensão: Política e violência nas periferias de São Paulo (São Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2011)Google Scholar.

18 Caldeira, ‘Peripheral Urbanization’.

19 Feltran, Fronteiras de tensão.

20 See Almeida, Ronaldo de, ‘Religião na metrópole paulista’, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 19: 56, pp. 1527CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 Feltran, Fronteiras de tensão.

22 Rocha, Camila, ‘Petismo e lulismo na periferia de São Paulo: Uma abordagem qualitativa’, Opinião Pública, 24: 1 (2018), pp. 2952CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 Pinheiro-Machado, Rosana and Scalco, Lucia M., ‘Da esperança ao ódio: A juventude periférica bolsonarista’, in Gallego, Esther S. (ed.), O ódio como política: A reinvenção das direitas no Brasil (São Paulo: Boitempo, E-book edition, 2018)Google Scholar.

24 McQuarrie, Michael, ‘The Revolt of the Rust Belt: Place and Politics in the Age of Anger’, The British Journal of Sociology, 68: S1 (2017), pp. S120–52Google ScholarPubMed.

25 Stuart Hall, ‘The Great Moving Right Show’, Marxism Today, Jan. (1979), p. 15.

26 Ibid.

27 de Leon, Cedric, Desai, Manali and Tuğal, Cihan, Building Blocs: How Parties Organize Society (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

28 Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Censo Demográfico 2010.

29 Dates are provided for each interview cited.

30 Mutirões are co-operative housing projects in which residents, organised through social movements, pressure authorities for the provision of land, materials and technical support, and then carry out the actual building work themselves. Juta's mutirão projects in the 1990s became a famous example of this form of popular housing production. See Miagusko, Edson, ‘Mutirão autogestionário e o contexto da experiência democrática revisitado’, Caderno CRH, 24: 61 (2011), pp. 167–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 A more detailed account is provided in Valéria Cristina Oliveira, Moisés Kopper, Jacqueline Garza Placencia and Matthew A. Richmond, ‘Introdução: Espaços periféricos, ontem e hoje’, in Matthew A. Richmond, Moisés Kopper, Valéria Cristina Oliveira and Jacqueline Garza Placencia (eds.), Espaços periféricos: Política, violência e território nas bordas da cidade (São Carlos: EdUFSCar, forthcoming).

32 Portal de Estatísticas, SEADE (see source, Table 3).

33 Interview conducted 27 June 2016. Pseudonyms are used throughout.

34 Interview conducted 8 June 2016.

35 Interview conducted 29 March 2017.

36 Almeida, ‘Bolsonaro presidente’.

37 Interview conducted 21 July 2017.

38 Imposto sobre produtos industrializados (tax on manufactured products).

39 While most disgruntled citizens identified as Evangelical, not all Evangelicals were in this group, with some interviewees also appearing in the other two.

40 Interview conducted 29 Aug. 2017.

41 Interview conducted 21 Aug. 2017.

42 Interview conducted 9 July 2016.

43 Interview conducted 26 April 2017.

44 Fundação Perseu Abramo, Percepções e valores.

45 Almeida, ‘Bolsonaro presidente’.

46 Feltran, Fronteiras de tensão.

47 Rocha, ‘Petismo e lulismo’.

48 Having long been opposed to the programme, Bolsonaro's language softened during the election campaign, although he continued to emphasise problems of benefit fraud and to paint claimants as lazy.

49 Feltran, Fronteiras de tensão; Rocha, ‘Petismo e lulismo’.

3
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