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Spaces of informality, such as favelas, barriadas and tugurios are seen by media, municipalities and security institutions as dangerous places. Today municipalities and international agencies use new forms of urban upgrading as tools to address both the traditional structural problems of poverty and also as tools for violence prevention. While a causation between informal spaces and insecurity clearly does not exist, there is an interest in understanding the influence of physical interventions in neighborhood security behavior. This research tests ways in which urban projects alter perceptions of security among favela dwellers over time, in the Rio de Janeiro “Favela-Bairro” urban upgrading project. Finds that while security conditions are marginally affected, location close to main roads part of the urban upgrading project affect residents’ security perceptions positively. However, individuals in less accessible areas of the favela present less openness to address security questions. It argues that individual proximity to upgraded main roads experience shelter from the effects of retaliation from perverse actors than those that have their accessibility impeded. Other projects such as public spaces or buildings show no significative changes in security perceptions.


 informal settlements, urban conflict, planning, physical space, favelas

Cite this paper

Samper, J. (2016). Urban upgrading in a context of violence: Perceptions of security and physical space in the case of the Favela-Bairro in Rio de Janeiro. International Relations and Diplomacy, 4(12), 760-778.


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