For a Pedagogy of Co-existence in the Polis

Fernando Lannes Fernandes, Jailson de Souza e Silva, Jorge Luiz Barbosa, Eliana Sousa Silva, Tatiana Moura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Hate and social indifference have been dominating public debate, political rhetoric and media discourse in the contemporary society. The advance of such a paradigm configures a threat to democracy and respect to diversity. Not only that, but a threat to very basic aspects of respectful relations that should sustain life in society and, furthermore, coexistence. Xenophobia, homophobia, islamophobia, and racism are some of the most dominant discourses in politico-ideological agendas in the contemporary world. The intensification of socio-symbolic tensions sustained by narrow socio-political, cultural, religious, and ethnical discourses have produced, reinforced, and disseminated narratives of disposal and dehumanisation. These discourses emerge in a historical context where the ideal of a democratic state has never been so challenged. Not surprisingly, we may be entering a period, as Santos (2007) sustains, in which ‘societies are politically democratic and socially fascistic’ (p.20).
Such discourses represent forms of labelling (or the reinforcement of established labels) that can refer not only to individuals and groups, but also to their territories: favelas, cortiços, slums, squats, ghettos, and other similar settlements that share a lower socio-political and symbolic status in the urban landscape. Their social representation is typically associated with negative labels reinforce physical and social features which are below the normative characteristics defined by hegemonic aesthetics and living standards.
In this paper, we argue that the improvement of livelihoods in those territories is very much dependent on changes of their symbolic capital. These changes, however, are not related to the incorporation of hegemonic aesthetics and living standards but in the recognition of the inventive power of peripheral groups that arise not only from their strategies and forms of interaction and affirmation in the urban space, but also from their genuine and authentic forms of organisation. That means the acknowledgement of other aesthetical and symbolic references that challenge the idea of normalcy, reaffirm the agency of people and reject any form of externalised labelling that ultimately sustain symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 1998).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Housing, Livelihoods and Environmental Challenges in Emerging Economies
EditorsRajesh Bhattacharya, Annapurna Shaw
Place of PublicationKolkata
PublisherOrient Blackswan
Number of pages35
ISBN (Print)9789354422331
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Housing
  • Favelas
  • Brazil
  • Urban Studies
  • Community Development


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