Governance without Government: Explaining Order in a Brazilian Favela


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation queries how “governance”—as a process where social behavior is organized, coordinated, and guided—is produced and maintained in spaces where the institutions of “government” are essentially absent. In Brazil, for example, where more than one-third of the total urban population lives in favelas (urban slums), researchers continually report that social and political order is maintained in slum communities, even when the state has no visible presence. Though oft-publicized examples from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo suggest that drug traffickers often control such communities, most favelas in Brazil are not governed by outlaw authorities. Through a case study in a favela in northeast Brazil, this research explains the paradox of social order in ungoverned spaces.