Place and process: Culture, urban planning, and social exclusion in São Paulo

Daniela Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Since the 1990s, the São Paulo government has attempted to transform the low-income Luz neighbourhood into a so-called 'Cultural Pole' through cultural institutions and urban design. Architects and government officials have represented their audience as an all-inclusive 'public'. However, the Cultural Pole actively promotes gentrification, that is, social exclusion. I contrast the official notion of 'public' brandished by the São Paulo government with a critique of space - not only the space designed by architects, but also that configured by use, occupation, and conflict. I consider how social groups have protested the Cultural Pole, building a realm of debate, conflict, and negotiation. I characterize this realm as a public sphere relating to and intersecting the spatial domain. By pointing to the intersection of discourses, social representations, and spatial practices, I suggest that these realms are mutually constitutive. While the revamping of the Luz neighbourhood and the proposed Cultural Pole are steeped in the particular context of São Paulo - a deeply unequal metropolis in a country marked by severe social disparities - the present discussion holds global value. First, the Cultural Pole is part of far-reaching urban and economic processes associated with globalization - as Smith puts it, gentrification as a new 'global urban strategy'. Second, inequality is not exclusive to poorer countries. The restructuring of labour and production markets and the pressure for financial competitiveness have sharpened differences within wealthier regions. The focused examination in this paper is thus also intended to resonate with other places and processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-493
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'Place and process: Culture, urban planning, and social exclusion in São Paulo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this