CEM's main analytical challenge is to understand the most important mechanisms that explain social conditions in the City of São Paulo. Since 2005, CEM has focused on one of the most important and resilient elements discussed in our research: social inequality. In keeping with the assumption that economic processes are an important element in the reproduction of inequality, which must be understood as mediated and associated to political and social processes, we decided to focus directly on the mechanisms of reproduction of inequality concerning the labor market, the state, public policies, and sociability. Our point of departure is the assumption that social conditions in general and poverty in particular are shaped by different societal and political processes, including economic dynamics.

The main objective of CEM’s scientific project is to investigate the complex issue of the role of state policies on poverty alleviation and inequality reduction. CEM’s objective will be developed in collaboration with foreign colleagues and involve several strategies of international comparison.


The research objective of this proposal is comprised of four broad dimensions:

  1. To measure current and past social inequalities
    1. How has Brazil changed in the last 50 year
  2. Inequality, Social Conditions, and Public Policy in Contemporary Brazil
    1. Secondary Public Schools: Incentives and Inequality
    2. Social inclusion through affirmative action policies
    3. Labor market, policies and opportunities: from school to work
    4. Tackling inequity in health provision: comparing policy strategies
    5. Metropolization mobility and socio-spatial segregation of the population
    6. Public Policies and territorial inequality
    7. Income transfer and beyond? Challenges for the inter-sector articulation of social policies
    8. Racial inequalities in Brazil: changes, strengths and challenges
  3. Political Institutions, Political Competition and Redistributive Policies in Brazil
    1. Electoral competition and Democracy in Brazil
    2. Politics and redistributive policies
  4. Who Governs What?
    1. Governance in large metropolis
    2. The margins of the city
    3. Political Inequality and Extra-parliamentary Representation

Research Line 1: To measure current and past social inequalities

To measure current and past social inequalities regarding race, migration, labor market, income, urban conditions, education, gender, and political behavior. The current situation and its evolution through the past 50 years will be the first main step of the project. How has Brazil changed in the last 50 years is the title of the book to be edited as the first Center's product, as a result of the comparative analysis of the 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2001, and 2010 Census data.

Subproject 1.1. : How has Brazil changed in the last 50 year

Coordination: Marta Arretche

This project refers to the evolution of inequality in Brazil from 1960 on. Social and economic inequality is seen as one of the most enduring traits of Brazilian society. Its resilience in spite of impressive rates of economic growth represents both an intellectual and political challenge. 

There are robust evidences that income inequality has steadily declined the last 15 years though. Moreover, it is well demonstrated by econometric studies that this outcome is driven by economic growth and consequent expanded demand for jobs as well as by deliberate policies such as direct cash transfers, pension expenditures, and the increased levels of schooling.

However, we know too little on whether this tendency is also taking place in other dimensions of people's well-being, like education, health, urban conditions, race, and so on. If it does, when did this inflexion start? Is it possible to identify factors explaining or associated with such changes? Are they associated to societal changes, whose origins are independent from State policies, or alternatively, public policy changes, deliberately set by State agencies, have had a role on current social conditions? Have inequalities typical of rural societies changed? Or, have they been replaced by new forms of inequality, typical of industrial or post-industrial societies? Have democracy had any impact on the path of inequality in Brazil?

Although we know that Brazil has changed a lot the last 50 years now, comprehensive descriptions of such changes are rare. Moreover, besides assessing the nature and moments of change, this project also aims at advancing in the understanding of the factors behind them. Special attention will be given to two categories of factors that are central in the theorization of change, namely, structure and agency. Hence,

exploring whether this changes have been a by-product of economic and society changes or the outcome of deliberate State policies is one of the main goals of this project.

This project will take the last 6 editions (1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010) of the Brazilian Census as its main data source. Its expected outcome is an edited book to be published both in Portuguese and English.

Research Line 2: Inequality, Social Conditions, and Public Policy in Contemporary Brazil

To understand the independent effect of state policies on social conditions and inequality reduction. Three issue areas will deserve particular attention, due to the key role given to them in comparative public policy analysis: education, health, and the labor market. In this dimension, public policies are taken as independent factors that could affect the lives of citizens, and reduce inequality and poverty. Although the federal government regulates the later, state and municipalities provide the first two. Moreover, outcomes in any of them are largely attributed by mainstream literature to individual’s social background. In this regards, parallel subprojects were designed to evaluate:

Subproject 2.1. : Secondary Public Schools: Incentives and Inequality

Coordination: Charles Kirschbaum

Differences in educational achievement are identified as an important antecedent to social inequality: it directly impacts individual opportunity structure, while indirectly leads to segregation. While the school has been a traditional explanatory factor for student performance and internal stratification, recently, teachers’ "reward system" has been identified as one of the key factors associated to the effort of gearing educational achievement to higher levels. The rationale for this policy implies the belief that incentives linked to educational performance lead to greater teaching quality. However, we may not assume that teachers and principals will be homogenously willing to embrace performance reward mechanisms. For instance, if incentives are perceived as driving overwhelming competition among teachers, they might indirectly generate disengagement. 

The main objective of this research project is to highlight the underlying individual, organizational and relational mechanisms linked to the reward policy enactment and translation into concrete practices. This research project will be developed in two phases – a comparative case analysis based on exploratory qualitative study, followed by an in-depth quantitative study among a dozen secondary public schools in São Paulo.

Subproject 2.2. : Social inclusion through affirmative action policies

Coordination: Antonio Sergio Guimarães

The adoption of affirmative action policies (AA) in Brazilian universities, early in this century, greatly increased the number of blacks entering higher education system in Brazil. A recent study of UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro) estimates a 264% increase of Blacks in private universities and 23% in public ones. Since 2008, the CEM’s team has been following the implementation of AA at the University of Bahia (UFBA) and Campinas (UNICAMP).

The goals of this project are twofold. In the theoretical front it aims at producing an overall review of the existing academic literature on Black social movements and the advancement of Blacks social rights in the XX and XXI centuries in Brazil. A careful political analysis spanning 1996, when the Ministry of Justice convened a conference in Brasilia on multiculturalism and affirmative action, to 2011 will be elaborate. In this period AA programs, mainly reservation quotas for blacks, indigenous people, and students from public high schools, were enacted at 71 public universities.

In the empirical front, the goal is to include new universities in the study, such as University of Sao Paulo (USP), the Alagoas Federal University (UFAL), the Pará Federal University (UFPA), and the Sergipe Federal University (UFS) and address four main axes, as follows:

  1. Access to higher education and its different routes 
  2. University careers of high and low prestige; 
  3. The relative effectiveness of different AA programs;
  4. Racial classification, reclassification, and social inclusion policies.

This project will be developed with interested universities and intends to help the evaluation of their own affirmative action programs.

Subproject 2.3. : Labor market, policies and opportunities: from school to work

Coordination: Nadya Araujo Guimarães 

The debate on social inequalities has stressed the role of the market as a mechanism for allocating resources and therefore as a strategic instance for reproducing or overcoming disparities. This requires understanding the way employment opportunities are allocated and the role of the job market in individual’s structural insertion, economic attainment and social mobility. The literature has tended to view intergroup inequality as a consequence of individual characteristics and endowments, both valuable in market terms.

Nevertheless, new analytical developments have put in evidence at least three other determinants: social networks (as a supplementary resource allowing either to reproduce privileges or to improve chances towards upward mobility), collective action (changing social practices and maximizing attainments of some actors) and public policies (transforming individual competition rules and terms). They nourish the same intriguing challenge: can we explain socioeconomic attainment and mobility by means of non-market and non-universalistic mechanisms?

The project will ground empirical analysis on evidences for the Brazilian case and its experience of continuous growth, which has transformed: (i) the economic structure (inflecting labor market performance and leading to systematic expansion of job opportunities and decline on income inequality), (ii) the higher education system (expanding substantially access to education) and (iii) the role of social movements in the implementation of new public policies (a flourishing set of compensatory initiatives related to the access to higher education has been put into place to confront social and racial inequalities). Those changes provide a special scenario to explore the links between labor market, policies and opportunities.

The project will focus on three main issues related to the recent dynamics of Brazilian labor market for high educated workers, which is a key issue for the development policy and is confronted nowadays with risks of shortage in the supply of highly qualified workers: (1) the transitions between school and the labor market, by means of an analysis of 2010 census data, exploring trends on the last decade and investigating new mechanisms that provide access to employment opportunities; (2) the relationship between economic growth, employment and occupational trajectories among highly educated workers, by means of an analysis (i) on 2000-2010 Census data and (ii) on Ministry of Labor’s Rais-Migra longitudinal panel for the period 1989-2010; (3) the effects of affirmative policies on occupational attainment and social mobility, by means of two case studies based on prospective panel (three biannual waves) on labor market trajectories and experiences of the first cohorts of beneficiaries from affirmative policies adopted by two prestigious Brazilian public universities.

Subproject 2.4. : Tackling inequity in health provision: comparing policy strategies

Coordination: Vera Schattan Pereira Coelho

Inequality in health-care services is a topic that has been gaining ground among researchers and practitioners, which is partially due to the growing amount of evidence on inequalities in health conditions, either in the access to health-care services or in the patterns of health condition distribution. Researchers working in the field have distinguished health inequality from inequity in health. Inequality concerns observed variations in health conditions or access to health-care services by different social groups which can be associated to tender, ethnicity, social class, occupational status, and socio-geographic location.

Inequities in health by their turn are related to daily circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work and die, which can be documented as avoidable and unfair. In Brazil, the interest in this discussion flourished in the last few years. The publication of some studies in the early 1990s, which documented significant inequalities in health indicators between different social groups, were followed by a debate about the covariates associated to such inequalities. More recently the focus on the “social determinants of health” has gained ground among the scientific community. Part of this literature defends the urgency to promote more effective health-care policies that work more collaboratively with other social sectors.

Brazil has a comprehensive public health-care system based whose main principles are to be universal and free. However, a debate about how to manage service providers still divides the health policy community as well as party preferences. Contracting-out is one such policies that is under scrutiny. Although some say that this is an effective way to combat inequality and inequity others fiercely resist incorporating what they call as private logic into the public health-care system.

In line with this agenda this project aims at: (1) examining the policies and strategies adopted by São Paulo’s state government to promote health equity. The State of São Paulo implemented a set of health policies and governance innovations, oriented by contracting-out guidelines, which were announced as powerful tools to promote more equitable distribution of health-care services. Within the State some municipalities have organized their services according to the state government orientation whereas opposition party municipalities did not complain to them. Two groups of municipalities will be selected: one made up of municipalities whose local health policies were in accordance with the state government ones – namely, favoring contracting-out policies – and another one made up of municipalities whose local health policies diverged from the state-level ones, that is, not favored contracting-out policies. Hence, the project aims at (2) comparing municipalities within the State of São Paulo that worked out different governance arrangements. The main goal of this project is (3) evaluate their relative effectiveness in promoting health equity, measured by health conditions and access to health-care services.

Subproject 2.5. : Metropolization mobility and socio-spatial segregation of the population

Coordination: José Marcos P. da Cunha

In Brazil, social and territorial inequalities occupy a prominent place in demographic studies aiming at understanding the determinants and consequences of people spatial mobility. In fact, regardless of the spatial scale considered, the movement of people reflects in many ways social, economic, and political asymmetries between social groups. In large urban areasespecially in those with the metropolitan feature, the spatial mobility of the population presents different characteristics and impacts acordding scales considered to the analysis, being that the same can be said in relation with their causes and consequences.  If migration movements in national scale answers to the regional inequalities and to the broader economic and social transformations, in the at the intra regional or intra urban level, they are factors linked to the way opportunities are produced and distribuited, especially the housing and job market ones, witch emerge as the most relevants. Therefore, migration, analyzed through demographiy lens, helps to explain not only significant part of the population tendencys, but also changes in firm and content of the mayor urban agglomerations, as well as their social consequences, in particular about the generation of socio and territorial inequalities. The spatial scale preferentially used in this research project will be the “intra-urban” (intra metropolitan and intra-city level). Thus, while inter-regional movements will also be considered, since they are closely related to the growth and expansion of urban areas.  Thus emphasizing the socio-demographic aspects of the growth process and production of the metropolitan urban space, this line of research focuses on both the role of spatial mobility (or immobility) in socio-demographic dynamics of these areas, as its causes and consequences not only on the conditions of life families and people, but also on the process of socio-spatial segregation.

However, the central focus of these analyzes are metropolitan regions of the São Paulo State (MR OF São Paulo, Campinas, Lowland Santos and the Paraíba and North Coast Valley), comparative studies with other areas of the country and abroad are also part of the possibilities and our interest analysis.

Subproject 2.6. : Public Policies and territorial inequality

Coordination: Marta Arretche

According to most accounts, income inequality among individuals has steadily declined in Brazil. However, much less is known about the Brazilian State capacity to reduce inequality in social service provision. Conventional wisdom has long stressed that the Brazilian political system would prevent both income inequality reduction and universal access to redistributive policies. From the available evidence, one cannot get clear indications that this is the case.

This project aims at mapping and explaining territorial inequality in the performance of universal public policies (health and education) in Brazil. Addressing this question requires departing from the conventional analytical strategy that takes the national level as the unit of analysis. Instead, since public services are delivered by lower-level governments, states and (specially) municipalities turn out to be the appropriate unit of analysis in order to explore this research problem. Hence, exploring Brazilian state effectiveness to provide access to social policies requires analyzing inter-jurisdiction inequality on both outputs and outcomes. So, this project aims at exploring one dimension of inequality that is often mentioned and seldom systematically studied, namely, the inequality between jurisdictions, instead of inequality between individuals. It is based on the assumption that the place where one lives affects his or her access to public policies.

Secondly, the project aims at innovating on the methodological front. Most accounts of crossjurisdiction inequality in policy outcomes are focused on one single dimension, that is, they assume one single indicator is enough to accurately measure health and education conditions. This project intends to build a comprehensive index to measure different dimensions of the health and education conditions in each Brazilian municipality.

Social policy literature has long stressed the impact of poverty, maternal level of education, and income inequality on health and education outcomes. Institutional literature argues that place-inequality reduction requires taxing centralization and national policy frameworks. In other words, it says there is a trade-off between inequality-reduction and decentralization of policy decision-making. Besides mapping territorial inequalities on service provision, this project also aims at exploring the role of national arrangements on these outcomes. Previous studies conducted at CEM revealed that the Union has great influence over subnational policies in Brazil, in spite of its highly decentralized way of organizing service policy provision. Public services provided by states and municipalities would be less effective and more unequal in the absence of the Brazilian current revenue-distribution system. Therefore, disentangling the impact of socioeconomic factors from the role of national redistributive and regulatory policies on subnational policy outcomes is the second goal of this project.

Subproject 2.7. : Income transfer and beyond? Challenges for the inter-sector articulation of social policies

Coordination: Renata Mirandola Bichir (EACH/USP)

What institutional settlements allow the maintenance of income transference programs allied with social policies required to guarantee social development, such as health, education, first childhood development, jobs and income generation? Is it possible to think of federal mechanisms towards incentive and coordination of the subnational unities actions, aiming at an inter-sector articulation? In the case of federal plans for articulation, such as Plano Brasil Sem Miséria (BSM – it is a federal program which aims at eradicating the extremely poor living conditions), how to guarantee a minimum homogeneity of the results considering the different institutional capacities of states and cities, which are in charge of the implementation of many of the social policies? These are the most important questions that guide this research project, to be developed on serious studies from specific interpretative lines I have already developed on my doctorate thesis, presented in 2011 June. This research project aims at deepening the debate concerning federal coordination mechanisms and institutional capacities necessary for the implementation of inter-sector policies of social development, considering federal initiatives, such as BSM, and also strategies which have been developed in some cities, specially in São Paulo.

Therefore, the main goal of this project is to understand how Brazil has been developing different mechanisms of vertical and horizontal coordination, and also institutional capacities to fight against extremely poor living conditions and inequality, through more or less articulated programs focused on fighting against poverty with different social policies. It also aims at discussing if there was indeed an institutional learning process from the coordination mechanisms developed along the institutional maturing of Programa Bolsa Família (PBF), important part of BSM.

By examining the most important coordination mechanisms and the institutional capacities developed by the federal government on the process of creation and consolidation of a social protection network, the recent process of the BSM implementation will be thoroughly analyzed in three perspectives: income transfer; acess to public services; and productive inclusion. Therefore, in-depth interviews with managers responsible for formulation and coordination of this policies will be performed – specially federal managers in charge of BSM, the Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger, and also partner ministries, such as the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor. Beside the interviews, the project aims at gathering informationinscribed in management reports, evaluation researches on policies and programs, monitoring indicators and other data concerning the programs, and also academic studies related to these themes.

To achieve the mentioned goals, this project will be executed from the following methodological perspectives:

  • Review of national and international literature on federative coordination and state capacities;
  • Review of the literature on social policies and income transfer programs developed in Brazil;
  • Mapping intergovernmental relations, defining the competences and the responsibilities in the case of each social intervention analyzed;
  • Identification of the most important – governmental and social – actors interested in each one of the social policies analyzed, as well as their relations, coalitions and conflicts;
  • Collecting administrative data aiming at the characterization of financial, administrative and personal resources involved in the implementation of each one of the policies;
  • In-depth interviews com important actor aiming at collecting information and data on social policies and income transfer programs; and at obtaining information and data which allow the analysis of institutional capacities available in each one of the policies;
  • Analyzing the ways of integrating programs on fighting against poverty and inequality and the universal social policies in the case of São Paulo city.

Subproject 2.8. : Racial inequalities in Brazil: changes, strengths and challenges

Coordination: Marcia Regina de Lima (Sociology Department University of São Paulo)

The main objective of the research is to examine the changes of racial inequalities in the last thirty years, identifying key indicators of racial inequalities, namely: education, work and income. These changes are related to what factors: general socioeconomic changes or changes in the composition of racial inequality? The assumptions that guide this research is that the fall of racial inequalities is more tied to social and economic changes (such as expanding access to education, income transfer policies, formalization of the labor market) than in a specific scenario of inequality fall racial. This can be measured by analyzing the different returns of social and economic improvements seconds color / race.

Research Line 3: Political Institutions, Political Competition and Redistributive Policies in Brazil

To understand the role of political institutions on the decision-making of redistributive policies, particularly voting behavior and law-making process. This dimension takes public policies as a dependent factor, whose origin can be observed and explained by the political system and actor strategies. Two projects will aim at answering empirical questions related to this puzzle.

Subproject 3.1.: Electoral competition and Democracy in Brazil

Coordination: Fernando Limongi

Democracy rests on competitive elections. Brazilian democratic regime does not fare well on most evaluations. The lack of effective electoral competition is often cited as one of the main causes for unsatisfactory democratic performance. More specifically, an idiosyncratic combination of electoral institutions and the country social structure would neutralize the consequences of electoral competition.

Although it appears under different forms, this argument is fit to systematic empirical test.

The objective of this project is to accurately describe the electoral competition and to better understand how political competition affects policy-making in contemporary Brazil. More specifically, this project aims at (1) examining current arguments about the way elections take form in Brazil; (2) deriving empirical implications from these theoretical arguments; (3) submitting these empirical implications to (statistical) tests. The project will focus the role of party strategies (minimizing the emphasis on individual strategies) and the relationship between majoritarian elections (for executive office) to proportional elections (for legislative positions).

On the methodological front, the project intends to contribute for the application and the development of new indexes on electoral competition. On the theoretical side, the project intends to contribute to better conceptually understand electoral competition relying on recent work that departs from the standard median voter model in order to accommodate party competition. 

The project will assemble and make available an original electoral dataset. This dataset coverage will be as complete as possible in terms of historical coverage and level of aggregation and it will be publicly available on CEM’s website.

Subproject 3.2. : Politics and redistributive policies

Coordination: Marta Arretche

This project aims at exploring the political factors explaining the adoption of federal-led redistributive policies, whose content aims both at providing revenues to subnational governments to implement service provision policies and tightly regulating their execution.

Previous studies conducted at CEM showed that in Brazil the Union plays a critical role in the redistribution of revenues among jurisdictions. Moreover, revenue allocation is highly institutionalized, that is, either the president's or subnational governors' and mayors' outlays are substantially bounded by the constitution and legislation. 

This outcome was hardly expected by dominant interpretations about the Brazilian political system. As a result, it is under-theorized the redistributive role of the Union in the provision of decentralized public policies in Brazil.. 

A second type of argument points toward a shared feeling of belonging to a national community, as it is the case mainly in European unitary states. The choice for a federal state would contradict the existence of such a shared belief in Brazil, although it has never been measured.

This project goal is to investigate the political support for the Union redistributive role in Brazil. It will be made by two analytic strategies. The first one is part of a comparative study already developed in Europe, Citizens after the Nation State (CANS). This study revealed two types of countries (i) those where there is widely support to the redistributive role of the central government and (ii) those in which this participation is a factor of political polarization. No study of this kind has ever been held in Brazil, although many analysts claim to know what Brazilians think about the subject.

The second one refers to the study of the decision-making process of the legislation about the distribution of federal revenue to subnational governments in Brazil. The redistributive nature of this decision is expected to affect the nature of the coalitions organized around it. Both debates and roll-call votes will be examined in order to understand this coalition formation.

Research Line 4: Who Governs What?

To map alternative forms of governance in urban areas and their connections to the state in order to understand “Who governs what?” This line of research aims at analyzing patterns of governance that are not necessarily controlled by the state and its agencies. It aims at unpacking two seemingly contradictory descriptions of current Brazilian governance: on one hand, as a case where policy implementation is controlled either by private or patrimonial interests; on the other, as an outstanding case of flourishing experiences of civic activism. Taken in isolation, neither fully describes urban governance patterns. Moreover, evidence shows that, in any case, connections to the state and its agencies are key to understand governance. 

Subprojeto 4.1. : Governance in large metropolis

CoordinationEduardo Cesar Leão Marques

Metropolitan spaces can intensely contribute to the reproduction of inequalities, either by the uneven distribution of services and opportunities or by the presence of high levels of residential segregation. Local governments could have a major role in reducing unequal situations, but they usually contribute to reinforce them.

This project will analyze governance patterns in large metropolis in comparative perspective in order to better understand how different governance patterns arise and persist (in sometimes incongruent ways). Its goal is to go beyond the classical political science question about “who governs?” and instead investigate “who governs what?”. The project will focus on two related questions: “how different issue areas are governed?” as well as “who governs what the State does not govern?”.

The subject of this project is to investigate patterns of governance in São Paulo, Paris, London and Ciudad de Mexico, searching for regularities and differences. Unique or coherent patterns of governance either in each city or among them are not expected. Instead, initial evidence suggests that patterns of governance differ according to policy area. Each policy area seems to present different cooperation arrangements between government levels as well as different articulations with (legal and illegal) groups within civil society.

A broad comparison of the four large metropolitan areas will be made by in-depth case studies aiming at investigating the presence of particular governmental processes in different issue areas. Particular combinations specifying conditions behind the origins, operation, and reproduction of governance patterns will be scrutinized. 

Subprojeto 4.2. : The margins of the city

Coordination: Gabriel Feltran

The subject broadly known as the “margins of the city” have obtained relevant analytical status in contemporary social sciences. In Brazil, urban sociologists and anthropologists spent the last four decades analyzing the deep dislocations produced by democratization, economic globalization and State reforms in the social and political dynamics of urban outskirts. As a result, key-words on the debate on urban poverty, such as migration, industrial work, labor markets, social policies, family, religion, violence and illegal markets have had their content deeply transformed.

In São Paulo, the expansion of marginal populations and territories is evident. Drug trafficking, car theft, electronic piracy, smuggling, burglary are no longer exclusively associated to urban violence. Instead, they are mainly highly profitable established markets that operate on transnational scale, in spite of being territorialized in strategic points of large metropolis as the São Paulo city, specially in its urban outskirts.

The main objective of this research project is to investigate – by ethnographic fieldwork – the social circuits of the so-called marginal urban groups and territories in São Paulo city. Therefore, the life of informal and illegal workers, immigrants, refugees, criminals, homeless and prostitutes is its subject.

This project will submit to empirical test the argument that the way marginal populations live is explained by the absence of connections either to the State or to social organizations. It will scrutinize the conventional wisdom that describes those marginal populations as those that “do not have” or as "outsiders".

Instead, preliminary evidence suggests that examining the actual relationships those individuals and groups establish among themselves and with other social groups or individuals from different social realms, such as family, labor market, churches, social workers, the organized crime, and the State can be a fruitful way to better understand the true government of the periphery.

The specific objectives of this project are: (i) to describe and analyze the social codification of daily life and the internal forms of management of these territories and populations (internal moralities, codes of conduct, hierarchy, sociability etc.); (ii) to describe the relationships between these subjects and other social and political spheres, like family, work, associations, politics, religion, police, and organized crime.

In order to enhance the robustness of research results, the project will collect data about “marginal circuits” in two different urban areas: (a) the Sapopemba district, on the eastern outskirts of São Paulo city and (b) a medium-size city (200,000 inhabitants) in the north of São Paulo State.

Subprojeto 4.3. : Political Inequality and Extra-parliamentary Representation

Coordination: Adrián Gurza Lavalle

Brazil is a remarkable case of innovative experiences of extra-parliamentary political representation. Usually those experiences have been classified under the label of “participatory institutions” (PIs). Nevertheless, we still need to improve our understanding about the actual outcomes of these new PIs as an organizational arrangement for political representation.

This research project will focus on the municipal councils, particularly in social policy areas. These are by far the most widespread “institutional innovation” for extra-parliamentary representation – currently there are more than 30 thousand institutionalized municipal councils in areas like health-care, education, and welfare provision in Brazil. There is an increasing but still insufficient body of systematic evidence on the effects of such experiences on policy outcomes. Furthermore there are hardly any systematic account of the decisions the councils actually make. Other question that has seldom been explored is the role of those councils to reduce political inequality in the decision-making process on social policies at municipal level.

The main objective of this research project is to tackle this gap in the literature. More specifically it aims at answering four questions on the role of municipal councils: (i) what do municipal councils make decisions about? (ii) are the decisions made at municipal councils likely to reduce political inequality by giving voice to underrepresented interests? (iii) are there patterns within and between municipalities? (iv) are the patterns (within and between) municipalities related to the conditions posited by literature as conducive to higher effectiveness of PIs?

In order to address these questions, the first phase of the project will focus on (systematically) mapping existing councils and the decisions they have made in six municipalities: Guarulhos, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Curitiba. The first three municipalities present the conditions commonly hypothesized by the literature as conducive to higher effectiveness of PIs, while the other three present a broad range of features associated to the undermining of those institutions. Currently there are no available data sets on the full range of existing councils at municipal level, neither on their decisions.