Bras. Political Sci. Rev.2019;13(1):e0010.

The Politics of the ‘Urban’ in São Paulo

Tamara Ilinsky Crantschaninov ORCID logo

DOI: 10.1590/1981-3821201900010010

Discussions in the field of urban policy in São Paulo hearken back to Brazil’s first attempts to build its own school of public policy, especially at the local level. The necessity of organizing space, and the community relations that existed there, with a focus on municipalities, from the 1950s on, were the impetus behind the creation of such institutions as the Instituto Brasileiro de Administração Pública (the Brazilian Institute of Public Administration, or IBAP) in Rio de Janeiro and the Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas de Administração Municipal (the Center of Municipal Administration Studies and Research, or CEPAM) in São Paulo. The 1988 Constitution of Brazil established the municipality as a federal entity and shed light on cities’ territories and conflicts, as well as their diverse forms of organization. Despite this effort, there were few academic reflections on urban policy within the field of political science at this time.

Starting with this milestone, there has been a confluence of municipal policy and urban policy. This edited volume, organized by Eduardo Marques, builds a new understanding of the topic by looking at the politics of ‘the urban’. These politics are characterized by political arrangements, decision-making processes, and dynamics of implementation specifically related to urban spaces. The originality of the term resides precisely in its focus on designs of governance that create public policies in urban environments beyond the classic vision of policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation. Less attention is paid to the content of the policies, and more is paid to the construction and negotiation processes with which these policies are created. Urban policy reflects and alters the spatial relationships of cities because it has to do with their dynamics and locations. The actions of certain actors also embody this spatial question, just as decisions about public policy take pre-existing territorial configurations (as well as those that actors want to create) into account. Given characteristics such as dimensions of big cities existing in reduced spaces, it is also necessary to create an analytical framework for these spaces and what happens within them.


The Politics of the ‘Urban’ in São Paulo