chapter  7
25 Pages

Socioeconomic resources

ByChristopher Marc Lilyblad

The purpose of this chapter is to empirically investigate the second theoretical domain; namely, how economic provision and social protection contribute to the routinization of gang authority in the favelas. This begins by (1) elaborating on the social origins of ‘poverty’ and ‘inequality’ (re-)produced by prevailing social, economic, and political dynamics within the broader framework of a globalized monetary-based market economy reproduced in Rio de Janeiro. Subsequently, I demonstrate how (2) gangs initially developed large-scale socioeconomic ‘coping mechanisms’ by (3) taking control of territory and generating financial revenue via the institutionalization of lucrative illicit market niches beyond the formal, legal-rational economic system. Thenceforth, (4) surplus revenues provided a basis for extension of socioeconomic security beyond the gang via co-optation, patronage, and corruption. This process occurred by recruiting favelados to join the ranks, which serves to simultaneously expand capabilities (agency) of new members and reinforce gang structures, embedding community members in patronage networks, and eliciting promises of non-interference or outright support from state officials via corruption – all of which served to entrench socio-spatial ‘boundedness’. The final section illustrates how (5) UPPs are combating illicit authority by removing market-entry barriers to expand individual capabilities, facilitating access to resources via emancipatory initiatives, and ‘formalizing’ informal sectors, thus corroborating the importance of socioeconomic security as a constitutive element of illicit authority.