Urban vulnerability from the other side of the street
The focus of the São Paulo based M’Boi urban research field station is on the micro level impacts of social, urban and institutional vulnerabilities present in big cities and multi-city conurbations that are aggravated by: precarious processes of high density land occupation and habitation deficit; changes in patterns for sustaining livelihoods; failures in the distribution of basic services and local consequences of global patterns of climate change. Through consolidating links with community, social and faith based territorial organizations and taking part in their multiple forums, we have seen the importance of an alternative analytic approach to much of the current street level analyses which tend to favour the policy role of the public sector actor. From the “other side of the street” the picture is one of disconnection and absence where community based organizations have sought to reply to everyday demands not only through advocacy and mobilization, but also through direct and collective service provision. Concern may at times be about what government doesn’t do, or should do, or does badly, but it is also about invisible cities and absent states. This has led to us to give more attention to a public action framework with multiple and at times conflicting and disconnected languages that involves not only the actions of governments for citizens, but also the actions of society to both pressure government and to act directly in response to public needs.