Implementing Progressive Planning in Brazil: Understanding the Gap between Rhetoric and Practice
My dissertation research explored the implementation of the Statute of the City, a 2001 national law that explicitly recognizes the right to the city. It also mandates institutionalized participation in planning and aims to promote social justice through a range of legal, urban and fiscal instruments that may be used by cities within the context of their master plans to regulate urban land and property markets based on the principle of the social function of property, seeking to deter land speculation and to establish the separation between the right to property and the potential for construction on vacant land. In my research, four intertwining themes explore how power relations and civil society organization influence the capacity to implement more participatory and socially just planning. While a gap exists between the rhetoric of the Statute and local practice, my findings suggest that the changes made as a result of the new planning directives of the Statute need to be seen as a long-term process. Indeed, the Statute is extraordinary in the Brazilian context, given high levels of poverty and socio-spatial inequality, violence and the aftermath of twenty years of dictatorship.