Illicit economies are an issue of paramount importance and an opportunity for social mobility for millions in Brazil. The literature about them lacks empirical accuracy and less normative interpretive keys. Based on field research conducted between 2005 and 2018, this paper explores two stories: i) that of a young man working for illegal markets in the outskirts of São Paulo; and ii) that of a Toyota Hilux he stole. It adopts an approach centered on a theory of everyday action and focused on the boundary between legal and illegal and its pragmatic social effects. I argue the lack of public regulation of illicit economies has, over the last few decades, prevented their actors from obtaining social rights and started a vicious cycle of violence and reproduction of inequalities on a social level, as well as given rise to criminal populism in the public arena.
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About the Speaker
Gabriel Feltran is a Brazilian urban ethnographer. Professor in the Department of Sociology of the Federal University of São Carlos, and Senior Researcher at CEBRAP, Brazil. Author of "Entangled City: crime as urban fabric in São Paulo (Manchester Univesity Press, 2020)" and "Stolen Cars: a journey through São Paulo's urban conflict" (SUSC Series Wiley 2021 forthcoming).