To Dwell Among the Affluent: Spatial Proximity Versus Social Distance in Three Shanty-Towns of Salvador Da Bahia (Brazil)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Stephan TREUKE, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
This research seeks to verify whether enhanced structures of opportunities can be corroborated within the constellations of spatial contiguity between the shanty-towns Vale das Pedrinhas, Calabar and Bate Facho and its’ surrounding upper-class condominios. Salvador has traditionally hosted patterns of central-periphery segregation. However, recent processes of upper class auto-segregation have induced a geographic approximation between socially distant classes. On the basis of 120 semi-structured interviews – 90 conducted in the three shanty-towns and 30 in the surrounding upper-class condominions – we examine the impact of neighborhood effects in the inhabitants’ well-being at the material, social and symbolic dimension. Concerning the material dimension, the study corroborates that the contiguity to the upper-class condominios benefits the inhabitants’ economic integration in the personal service sector. However, structures of social segmentation hierarquize the access to urban services, particularly evident in the unequal access to schools and hospitals. Regarding the social dimension, the analysis of personal networks, the influence of peer groups and role models on school achievement and the community’s capacity of informal social control confirm the confinement of social relationships to the local level whereas the existence of potentially bridging cross-class interactions could not be attested. At the symbolic dimension, strong evidence could be found for the neighborhoods’ territorial stigmatization, hampering the access to the formal labour and housing market. Concluding, this research emphasizes the relevance of the neighborhood effect hypothesis for the analysis of the mechanisms of reproduction of social inequities in Brazilian metropolises. By identifiying the causal interrelatedness between the three dimensions, it reveals the deleterious impact of spatially concentrated and mutually reinforcing constraints on the inhabitants’ well-being. The dialectic relation between economic integration and social avoidance underlines the fact that spatial proximity does not automatically promote enriching opportunities or translate into a socially ascending dynamic per se of the shanty-towns.