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Preserving the (right kind of) city: the urban politics of the middle-classes in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Nogueira-Teixeira, Mara Cristina (2019) Preserving the (right kind of) city: the urban politics of the middle-classes in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Urban Studies. ISSN 0042-0980

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Since re-democratisation, Brazil has experienced a slow but continuous process of urban reform, with the introduction of legal and institutional developments that favour participatory democracy in urban policy. Legal innovations such as the City Statute have been celebrated for expanding the ‘right to the city’ to marginalised populations. While most studies examine the struggles of the urban poor, I focus on middle-class citizens, showing how such legal developments have unevenly affected the ways in which different social groups are able to impact the production of urban space. The two cases explored in this study concern residents’ struggles to preserve their middle-class neighbourhoods against change triggered by projects related to the hosting of the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The first looks at the Musas Street residents’ fight against the construction of a luxury hotel in their neighbourhood, while the second examines the Pampulha residents’ struggle against the presence of street vendors and football fans in their streets. My findings show that through the articulation of legal discourses, middle-class claims on the need for preserving the environment and the city’s cultural heritage are legitimised by the actions of the local state. The article thus looks beyond neoliberalism, showing that socio-spatial segregation and inequality should not be regarded solely as the product of state–capital alliances for engendering capital accumulation through spatial restructuring, but also as the result of the uneven capacities of those living in the city to access the state resources and legitimise certain forms of inhabitance of urban space.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Urban Studies Journal Limited
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 17:27
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:54

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