Illegalisms and the play of power in São Paulo

Vera da Silva Telles Daniel Veloso Hirata About the authors

This article's sets out by exploring the web of illegalisms - new, old or redefined - connected to today's expanding informal economy (and city), the trade in illegal goods and drug trafficking, and their diffusion into urban social networks and practices. Taking as its base concept the differential management of illegalisms (Foucault), the text explores what happens precisely on the thresholds of legal-illegal, formal-informal: the play of power, relations of force, fields of dispute. Its working hypothesis is that these illegalisms form the centre point for the structuring of fields of force and power games that dislocate, make and remake the boundaries between the legal and extralegal, justice and force, pacts and violence, order and disorder. At the core of the economies and dynamics of our cities are fields of force in which the meanings of law, justice, order and their opposite are under dispute. This approach, the text argues, allows us to understand the political dynamics involved in informal markets, as well as the retail market of illegal drugs and its diffusion within the urban fabric.

City; Illegalisms; Markets; Informal; Illegal Business; Fields of Dispute


Departamento de Sociologia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas da Universidade de São Paulo Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, 315, 05508-010, São Paulo - SP, Brasil - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: temposoc@edu.usp.br