Community, Eviction, and Leadership in a Brazilian Informal Settlement

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1 WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY Community, Eviction, and Leadership in a Brazilian Informal Settlement The Case of the Comunidade do Pina, Recife Ludger Hellweg 10/19/2014 Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Sciences, International Development Studies at the Rural Development Sociology Department, Wageningen Supervised by Dr. Ir. Pieter de Vries

2 Abstract This thesis is based on the findings of a four month ethnographic field study of a Brazilian informal settlement named Comunidade do Pina (Community of Pina) in the city of Recife, applying a fallibilist methodology grounded on Karl Popper s understanding of critical rationalism, scrutinizing how the research field corresponds to academic literature that is predominantly focused on a few Favelas in Rio de Janeiro, to improve erroneous understandings on the subject caused by the insufficient representation of the present samples. The study demonstrates that informal settlements, which Brazilians often refer to as invasions (Invasões; sg. Invasão) due to the initial illegal occupation of land through deprived populaces, became a heterogeneous space that cannot be grasped over stereotypical images of Favelas, as the space of suffering in which selfless movements fight for recognition and dignified living conditions. Brazil s squatter settlements can be understood as one, due to the self-labeling of residents of their living space and its unique compartmentalized small scale urban structure, unfit for heavy traffic, creating a communal environment of exchange, but is socially stratified within producing its own middle class. The economic framework conditions of my research field were characterized by an economic boom in neighboring areas of the formal city enabling inhabitants to socially move upwards due to their inclusion in the thriving employment sector, proving that an economic marginalization is not generally inherent to life in a Brazilian informal settlement. A minority of poor residents in the Comunidade do Pina did not have time to economically progress, as is evident in their shorter stay in the squatter settlement while concurrent indicators exposed that their financial conditions also started to improve due to the flourishing surrounding economy. The uneven, but overall positive economic evolution was reflected in the quality of housing, which ranged from extremely deprived shelters to houses with sophisticated building materials and equipment. Yet, the economic success of the Comunidade do Pina fueled by the positive economic development of neighboring formal quarters will most probably dissolve the research field, since real estate speculation and resettlement schemes gradually diminish the informal living space. The topic of crime did not fully integrate in my research, since it surprisingly had the character of a parallel world, consciously ignored by research participants, so it would not impact on their lives or like in the case of Rio de Janeiro, prevent a functioning community leadership. Yet, even under these conditions community leaders, supposedly the informal representatives of the people, did not have the strength or will to oppose the decomposition of the squatter settlement caused by real estate speculation and the housing programs, since they could not establish or had already lost a support base, respectively directly profited from the dissolution due to their affiliation with external politicians that support or at least tolerate the displacement of populaces living on the highly valorized land. The weakness of leaders to collaborate, external politicians focus to center on brokerage practices favoring one informal representative in a myriad informal political sphere, and the resident s option to distance themselves from perceivably illegitimate distributive practices of leaders due to their economic betterment in the formal economy had destroyed united leadership at the beginning of the 1990s and continues to prevent a common fight of popular politicians in the Comunidade do Pina that is rooted in practices of clientelism and vote buying.

3 Contents Acknowledgements Introduction Theoretical Framework The Flaws of Induction, Deduction, Constructivism, and Positivism Karl Popper s Critical Rationalism Popper s Understanding of Criticism Critical Rationalism and Productivity Field Work and Methodology Methodology and Fallibilism Identification of the Research Site Access, Contacts, and Field Relations Data Collection Methods Participant Observation Interviews Sample Privacy Personal Safety Background and Introduction to the Research Site Context of Brazil and Recife History of Pina A Day in the Comunidade do Pina Discussion and Research Questions The Field of the Comunidade do Pina How to Define a Comunidade and why is Pina a Comunidade? Discussion The Economic Evolution of the Comunidade do Pina Discussion The Physical Evolution of the Comunidade do Pina Discussion The Dissolution of the Comunidade do Pina - Real Estate Speculation Discussion The Dissolution of the Comunidade do Pina - Housing Program Discussion... 56

4 6.6 The Evolution and Nature of Crime in the Comunidade do Pina Discussion Leadership The Concept of Leadership What is a Leader? How to Become a Leader? Discussion Leadership in the Comunidade do Pina The History of Leadership Pina s Leadership Today Resident s Perception of Leaders Discussion Conclusions References

5 Acknowledgements I would like to express my very great appreciation to Pieter de Vries who enabled me to write this thesis through his patient guidance, supporting and advising me at any time. His contacts in Brazil allowed me to conduct research in an environment I never imagined to get to know. In this environment, known to us as Favela, I met warm-hearted and welcoming people that shared their fears, dreams, and hopes, their stories and their life-world with me. I am forever in their debt. 1

6 1. Introduction Studying Brazilian squatter settlements means today to oppose certain stereotypical perspectives that are deeply rooted in academic discourse - images of the marginalization and deprivation, of informal settlements seen as a parallel universe (Zaluar & Alvito, 2006) - images of community leaders as selfless individuals acting solely out of passion for the deprived (Junge, 2012). I have learned that squatter settlements are not the doomed Baumanian places where the superfluous vegetate (Bauman, 2011), but that an informal settlement can be appreciated by its residents as a positive social environment, which can even serve as a hub to socially move upward due to an insertion in the economic framework. I have come to understand that living conditions are not generally unworthy and that crime does not have to shape the life world of slum dwellers. But I also comprehended that extreme deprivation still exists and that politics understands the fight against indigence as something that can be negotiated to their advantage. Brazil s redemocratization after the fall of the military dictatorship in the 1980 s created a spirit of change in the slums of the country, personalized through community leaders. But this spirit was destroyed by electoral politics and the weakness of community leaders that once stood for societal transformations, repelling people that once put their hopes in those claiming to be representatives. I carried out a four-month ethnographic field study in an informal settlement in Recife, Brazil, named Comunidade do Pina (lit: Community of Pina; Comunidade is a term commonly used to refer to an informal settlement), to grasp this understanding of a world that is too often coined by bias which I did not want to succumb to. Preconceptions are generated by the media portraying squatter settlements as places of social and economic deprivation, diseases, and particularly delinquency (Silveira, 2009), but also by social scientists themselves, focusing above all on the picturesque Comunidades on the hillsides of Rio de Janeiro, while informal settlements can be found throughout Brazil (Perlman, 2010). This limitation was reflected in research, where qualitative samples from insufficient locations sought to depict the myriad world of Brazil s squatters. The weakness of the geographic focus is engendered by the practice of researchers to inductively infer, disregarding the complexity and extent of the field. To avoid generalizing my own findings as derived from the limited geographic scope of the Comunidade do Pina, I took a fallibilist viewpoint based on Karl Popper s theory of critical rationalism. Fallibilism acknowledges the impossibility to come to a definite truth while it seeks to improve given understandings based on new insight. This approach to knowledge allowed me to compare my field data with existing literature to criticize work that exceeded its scope by inductively inferring too extensively. The refusal or partial rejection of approaches that cannot stand a deductive test is called falsification by Popper (2000a) and one of the key elements to his methodology, since the refutation of ideas diminishes inaccuracies in an academic debate. Naturally, I found academic literature on informal settlements that corroborated my own findings. Following Popper, these theories are being strengthened through the confirmation, even though corroborations are not synonymous to the unattainable truth. I also suggested new ideas, alternatives to falsified theories and addendums to the existing views if my data endorsed such propositions. According to Popper and my own stance, this is not meant as an inductive inference but as an offer, a guess that pursues a higher validity of consequences when applied to the field of Brazilian squatter settlements (Popper, 2000a). To put it simply, the critical rationalist way of proceeding enabled me to discharge or corroborate academic concepts and understandings of Comunidades and to propose new elements to the scientific debate on Brazil s informal settlements. 2

7 As is evident from my theoretical stance, my research does not seek to research an unexplored niche, but to critically reflect upon the given works on squatters. Yet, the areas I address in my research are not derived from literature, but constituted by the people I lived with. Since I perceived a shortcoming in the existing debate on Comunidades, I did not want literature to determine how I access my research field. Therefore, I am not presenting a classic problem statement and a research question in my introduction, since my thematic focus evolved in cooperation with the field and will be ethnographically presented in Chapter 5: A Day in the Comunidade do Pina. The ethnographic identification of questions guided me to realize which factors constitute the life world of the residents of the Comunidade do Pina and generated six topic areas which compose the first part my work. Firstly, I scrutinize the existence of the concept of a Comunidade, since critical rationalism requires the corroboration of basic assumptions, and demarcations among residents within the research field were stark. Valladares (2005) and de Lucca (2005) advocate to generally disregard the concept of the Brazilian squatter settlement, since the space is too heterogeneous to be defined as one. Yet, da Silva s (2011) stance expounds that the existence is legitimate due to a common identity, while Lobosco (2009) grasps universal structural features. Secondly, I depict the economic evolvement and the present economic situation of the Comunidade do Pina, which was outstandingly positive in the overall view of the informal settlement, even though some areas are still characterized by extreme deprivation. The following discussion takes Janice Perlman's (2010) generational comparison of incomes in the slums of Rio de Janeiro as a point of reference that attests to financial betterment, even though she concurrently observes a growing marginalization of slum dwellers. This contradictory statement will be resolved by applying the work of Preteceille & Valladares (2000) who clarify that economic conditions of slum dwellers must be considered in relation to the city scope expounding that some slums actually possess the financial landscape of formal neighborhoods. Thirdly, I discuss the physical conditions of public and private infrastructure, with the former being relatable to the economic evolution and Abramo's (2001) work that accurately describes the evolution of private housing in squatter settlements as bound to time, grasping the peculiarities of the Comunidade do Pina. A phenomenon vastly unexplored in literature was a gradual deterioration of public infrastructure while private shelters tended to be improved. What seems to be conflicting is bound to disparities of private economic possibilities and political representation rooted in the social organization of the Comunidade. Fourthly, I draw onto the widespread practice of real estate speculation within the Comunidade do Pina that is driven by powerful companies gradually taking over parts of the informal settlement bordering the formal neighborhood to transform the land into apartment blocks for Recife s upper and middle class. The process is bewildering, since the Comunidade do Pina is legally protected against market forces and assumingly well-functioning according to many authors like Macedo (2008), Donovan (2007), and Maia (1995). Albuquerque (2008) is capable of grasping this ignorance of lawful rights that can be related to missing knowledge to the inside of the squatter settlement, and to the possible desire of political and economic stakeholders to clear the area. Fifthly, I depict the current implementation of a housing program that is replacing a vast number of deprived residents primarily living in mangrove areas, which is marking the highest distance between the informal and formal world. Even though appreciated by the poor targeted population, the housing scheme is an eviction for the purpose of a municipal traffic project. The encircling of the squatter settlement through the real estate speculation and the housing program diminishes the 3

8 space of the Comunidade from two sides, suggesting that the existence of the informal settlement is a historical mistake (Dymski, 2011), in a sense that the occupants stand in for populaces with higher purchasing power and urbanist visions. Sixthly, I researched the very widespread phenomenon of crime that surprisingly did not strongly interfere with the everyday lives of the residents. Garmany s (2009) and Koster s (2009) field studies show that the extent and coping mechanisms of crime are countless in Brazil. The first six topic areas constitute what I call the field of the Comunidade do Pina, since the depictions emanate predominantly from accounts of regular residents. The final topic I access is leadership, which makes up the largest part of my research and is based mainly on the interview data of informal popular politicians in the Comunidade do Pina. The gate keeper who granted me access to the squatter settlement was one of those referred to as a leader and encouraged me to explore a field not extensively discussed in literature like other issues, hence allowing me to explore new knowledge. The contemporary concept of leadership is assessed in the first part of the chapter, to question its existence according to my critical rationalist standpoint, scrutinizing the assumption of their being, but also to understand this alien concept of informal slum representation. The key author to analyze the concept of leadership is Koster (2009), who captures the essence of community leadership from a resident s perspective, demanding love, integrity, and the provision of resources, with the latter often highlighted by leaders themselves, even though impacting negatively on the former two factors. Yet, the leader s focus on the brokerage function becomes logical when considering the factors of time and resource impact. A factor overlooked in literature is neutrality or the denial of radicalism that is unveiled through the accounts of community leaders and residents alike. After clarifying the present day concept of popular politics, the history of leadership in the Comunidade do Pina is portrayed through field data, to come to understand how leadership developed in the squatter settlement. I continue the chapter by exemplary illustrating four popular politicians that stand synonymous for today s situation of leadership to then let residents formulate their perception of and attitude towards leadership. The subsequent discussion firstly evaluates how informal representation as generated through leaders in relation to the Comunidade do Pina formed itself with the downfall of, and the end of oppression through the Brazilian military dictatorship in Under the guidance of a united leadership bundled in a resident s association and through support of the inhabitants in participatory approaches, the Comunidade do Pina experienced a vast betterment of infrastructure underpinned by Marxist ideas. Yet, the united leadership lost its force at the beginning of the 1990s (Preira, 2008). A time of decline of informal representation began, characterized by competition among leaders that gradually centered on commodities, contradicting the original idea of a united representation which focused on societal change. The researchers included in my analysis, all of which are capable of grasping the parts of the processes that occurred, depict leaders as too competitive to act socially (da Silva, 2011), as overly drawn to electoral politics and not being capable of representing the slum dwellers (Albuquerque, 2008), or as not needed and rejected due to a satisfaction of residents with facilities (da Silva, Magalhães, & Veloso, 2014). Afterwards, I draw on the developments that stood complementary to the dissolution of leadership or trailed behind the united informal representation, namely the uprising of NGO s, whose character of practicality was grasped by McCann (2006), yet not its relation to the former leadership; and the institutionalization of leadership through so-called Commissions for Upgrading and Legalizations that 4

9 finally only served electoral politics as an entrance point to the squatter settlement as identified by Albuquerque (2008). Lastly, the contemporary field of leadership is reflected in my analysis characterized by the rivalry of, and distrust in the Comunidade s popular leaders using methods of clientelism and vote buying as defined by Hicken (2011) to acquire or sustain power, only attracting deprived residents that still hope to profit from their work. But before engaging in the ethnographic identification and the following depiction, as well as analysis of the topic areas, I present a detailed overview of the theoretical framework, since critical rationalism is an unusual approach in development anthropology. Therefore, I depict the epistemological considerations as much as the theoretical idea. In the following methodological chapter, I translate my theoretical framework of critical rationalism into an applicable technique to then describe how I identified the research site, how I accessed it, and how my field relations evolved. Afterwards, I introduce the data collection methods applied in my research, to then portray the sampling technique I used to generate sufficient field data to argue consistently. I complete the methodology chapter by shortly reflecting upon the privacy of the research participants and my personal safety in the field. The ensuing and last chapter ahead of the ethnography expounding my research interest will illuminate the embeddedness of the Comunidade do Pina in Brazil and the city of Recife to let the reader understand the broader setting my research took place in. 2. Theoretical Framework The data that I collected in the course of my fieldwork will be analyzed in a critical rationalist manner, due to the shortcomings I experienced in traditional epistemologies. My problems with existing approaches, my motivation to use this rather unusual approach, and my understanding of the theory will be portrayed in the following chapter in detail. Karl Popper, the father of critical rationalism, is my theoretical point of reference while David Miller s writings capture the relation of development anthropology with critical rationalism. 2.1 The Flaws of Induction, Deduction, Constructivism, and Positivism In the vast literature about Brazil s informal settlements, I perceived a general methodological shortcoming concerning the probability of generalizations that were drawn from anthropological fieldwork based on small qualitative samples. My stance was also confirmed by Perlman (2010) stating that the majority of literature on Brazilian squatter settlements is based upon a very limited number of geographic locations in Rio de Janeiro, whose picturesque hillside Favelas always attracted researchers to a higher degree than informal settlements in other parts of Brazil, or even other areas of the city itself. This circumstance is not problematic as researchers limit their findings to the geographic field investigated, but they tried to exceed their scope, creating deceptive generalizations about Comunidades. This, in consequence, led me to a more abstract level of thinking about epistemology as well as probability theory, and henceforth I was confronted with inductive and deductive theories. 1 Induction describes a predictive conclusion from observed to unobserved phenomena and generalizes from observed phenomena to laws. The inductive technique is used vastly in literature on 1 I did not incorporate the concept of abduction, since it only combines inductive and deductive theories. 5

10 Brazilian squatter settlements. The main critique of inductive techniques is that humans cannot logically assume that observed phenomena can be generalized. Only if all entities of a studied object or phenomenon are being incorporated in scientific research can a generalization can be objectively valid, since it is the absolute proof. Deduction takes this point of departure and seeks to apply a general phenomenon at lower levels of abstraction proving its applicability (Minnameier, 2010). These descriptions are oversimplifications of the longstanding debates in probability theory, but they tackle the core of my problem. The technique of induction has logical shortcomings, since it does not permit to formulate generalizations based on small qualitative samples. Deduction appears to be more interesting, but I have not discovered knowledge that I could generally accept to a degree that I would simply apply it at a lower stage to prove it. In constructivism this epistemological problem is solved by a way of knowing the world differently. The notion of epistemology is connected to what individuals see as truth, belief, and justification in order to reflect reality. Many researchers in development anthropology believe that the individual is constituted by the interaction with his or her environment, which I believe is true. But they also claim that there is not a single truth in the world, but that meaning is constructed individually in interaction (Ashworth, 2000). Constructivists believe that reality is a myth, and that the social world is the multifaceted outcome of the interaction of human agents; it is a world which does not have an unequivocal reality (Ashworth, 2000, p. 93). The standpoint of constructivism is tempting in a sense that social research cannot be judged by objective criteria anymore. The written account of one situation does not have to match the description of another, since the uniqueness of the world does not produce equity. This idea also applies to the researcher itself. Two scientists can study the exact same social field and come to fundamentally different conclusions, since their perspective is as much dependent on the standpoint as the social field constituted by subjects itself. But I had to accept a general critique regarding this concept. It produces a relativism that is hindering any kind of progress in science (Gillett, 1998). The relativism gives value to any written account, data, and conclusions that are so misleading and wrong that it leaps to the eye. In constructivism obviously one could say to distinguish between useful and less useful concepts, but who is the judge, since truth depends on position. I absolutely agree that beliefs about reality are constructed by the mind and are relative to various frameworks but I absolutely disagree that truth itself is constructed by the mind and is relative to various frameworks (Gillett, 1998, p. 37). The counterpart of constructivism is positivism. The concept tries to accurately ratify one single construction as lawful reality. Authenticity is grasped through phenomena or individual observations that can represent the truth. Based on that assumption, research can get to a unique point of what is real. Positivists aim at the underlying lawful reality of the human social world (Ashworth, 1997). Deductive and inductive approaches seem to be connected to positivism rather than to constructivism since they both advocate different concepts to find the truth, but do not incorporate the possibility of truth by standpoint. Deductive as well as inductive researchers can be positivists, but they will hardly be constructivists, since the concept denies any kind of truth. Even though there are certainly alternative concepts to induction and deduction that assert there is a way to the utter truth, I am not comfortable with the absolute term in general. In my assessment, absolute truth is rather overconfident. And as explained above, constructivism enables to my way of thinking a misleading relativism. 6

11 2.2 Karl Popper s Critical Rationalism A way out of my dilemma came in the form of Karl Popper s theory of critical rationalism. Karl Popper states that the whole discussion around the theory of cognitions is the wrong approach, since it is irrelevant how basic knowledge is created, through inductive or deductive approaches or even through dreams. A basic theory is a point of departure and not a paradigm. The more important dimension is what Popper calls falsification. If an existing theory is being falsified or refuted, it cannot stand a deductive test, since it has proven not to be universal (Popper, 2000a). Even though critical rationalism claims for itself to be deductive, it is understood as a way to attack a theory rather than as an epistemology in the classical sense, which I dismissed in the last chapter (Miller, 1994). A falsification leads to a refusal or a partial rejection of a theory and if possible and suggested by data, to a new theoretical proposal, or if partly falsified, to a modification of the theory. The new idea does not claim to be true, but to be more precise until it is being falsified again to create once again a more accurate stance. I highlight the falsification for another important idea in Popper s concept. He could be labeled a positivist, but truth is not in reach for a simple creature like the human. A falsification improves theories by eliminating refuted elements and by proposing new ones, but never attains the pure truth, since it is simply not achievable. The standpoint is commonly regarded as fallibilism. This is why the corroboration of data is less vital, since the researcher was not capable of progressing closer to the unattainable truth. However, corroboration is an indicator of approximation to the truth as well as a probabilistic support and has its own quality (Popper, 2000a). A well-known criticism of critical rationalism clarified by Miller (1994) is its concept of verisimilitude. Critical rationalism assumes that refutations diminish inaccuracies in academic debates, but there is no such thing as a measurement for verisimilitude to prove it. Yet, there is a reason to suppose that the non-refuted theory is closer to the truth because it has not been falsified yet. Critical rationalism has been misperceived around this aspect, since it does not lead us closer to the truth just like in a one way street to objectivity. What Miller suggests is an intuitive judgment that one scientific hypothesis is closer to the truth than another, when critical arguments clearly indicate such a position. A conjecture that has more true consequences than another is a clear indicator for progress (Miller, 1994). 2.3 Popper s Understanding of Criticism According to Popper, the critical testing of theories is the only way to scientifically progress. While Popper rejects the importance of epistemology at theoretical starting points, new proposals as based on refutations and suggested by data are not meant as an inference, but as a supposition with no claim to be true. No one actually knows, everyone is guessing, and if someone makes a better guess, one can again critically access the claim - a simple and consistent way to move on (Popper, 2000a). Popper described his theory in its most basic form as follows: In what way can we succeed to recognize fallacies and turn them off? Through the criticizing of theories and assumptions of others, and if we can educate ourselves to do so, through criticizing of our own theories This is critical rationalism in its most simple and basic form (Popper, 2000d, p.33). In that sense, Popper attributes a lot of power to the critical thinking of humans and the ability to value arguments, since the testing of theories require researchers to make each other 7

12 understandable. Irrationalists attack Popper s theory on this basis, arguing that any human being could at any time deny accepting an argument. Irrationalists think that humans cannot be rational, that humans are weak and driven by their feelings. At this point, Popper does not follow rationality. He accepts that irrationalists are argumentatively superior (Popper, 2000b). Constructivists could apply the same form of critique, since they believe that our world is negotiated beyond validity, but unlike irrationalists they often accept a momentary legitimacy of compromise. However, just like irrationalists, constructivists reserve the right to deny any argument, since it is finally brokered according to them (Kukla, 2000). In effect, critical rationalism takes a stance that is irrational in itself because it is based on a decision to take a position that is not underpinned by its own standards, namely arguments. Popper calls it a minimal concession to irrationalism. According to Popper, a standpoint is after all, a matter of taste and a matter of morals, a decision of our conscience (Popper, 2000b). I fully agree with Popper, since irrationalism does not have to be the better concept, solely based on its argumentative impregnableness. After all, critical rationalism is based on the belief that humankind is able to reason and to accept critique. I can be wrong you might be right, but together we might come closer to truth (Popper, 2000b, p. 22). It is therefore a very tolerant approach. Language is a tool to let people rationally and easily understand a point; that an argument can be openly criticized on its clear content. Language must therefore be formulated openly, to transport the information (Popper, 2000b). Empiricism, unlike critical rationalism, always tries to verify the last source of insight. It led to a result oriented way to confirm or deny theories, but it fails to scrutinize the validity of a question. Questions are being seen as naturally given too often (Popper, 2000c). An assumption or question can be corroborated or falsified, but this is just possible in the light of a critical examination of the question or assumption itself. It is essential for a critical approach not to take anything for granted. Falsification is a way to proceed due to the elusiveness of truth and the consequential progress through refutation. In that sense, insight does not have any kind of authority, because in the critical rationalist manner to proceed, as based on falsification, knowledge is temporary and never paradigmatic. The elusiveness is indicated through certain characteristics. Clarity is not a sign of truth, but ambiguity and intricacy can be signs of fallacy. If there are no contradictions in a theory, it is not a sign of a right theory, but contradictions are a sign of fallacies. Identified fallacies help us to progress to a perceivably better theory, but the researcher will never achieve the truth. 2.4 Critical Rationalism and Productivity According to Miller (1994), critical rationalism might not be very productive in offering in its method of corroboration and falsification answers, but inductive methods can create an ineliminable debris of a transcendental argument gone apocalyptically wrong (Miller, 1994, p. 26). Even though the apocalyptical level seems slightly dramatic in development anthropology, I acknowledge that the precondition of regularity in the world leads to wrong conclusions in the field. I also agree with the productivity argument. Researchers should not force themselves into the role of clairvoyants. Corroborations and falsifications do not have to produce the truth. The researcher just has to pay attention to what is observed. Induction requires the existence of regularity while corroborations and falsifications are a simple modus operandi. If a researcher requires the world to be like the model he uses, he fits the observation into the theory. Corroborations and refutations do not need any prerequisite. Inductivists presuppose how the world has to be, and this is the major flaw. It is a metaphysical assumption beyond the possibility of testing. 8

13 Miller cites Mill (1994, p. 42) and makes a statement that concludes the theoretical stance of my research: The phenomena of society might not only be completely dependent on known causes, but the mode of action of all those causes might be reducible to laws of considerable simplicity, and yet no case might admit of being treated in precisely the same manner. So great might be the variety of circumstances on which the results in different cases depend, that the art might not have a single general percept to give, except that of watching the circumstances of the particular case, and adapting our measures to the effects which, according to the principles of science, result from those follow that the phenomena do not conform to universal laws. Following this idea, I am trying to corroborate or to falsify existing theories and if possible I am proposing new ideas, but society might not have many regularities. In this case, I rather contribute a vivid example of life in an informal settlement in Brazil, a case that represents the life world of those being researched beyond universal interpretation. This is by no means negative, but represents the multitude of our world. After all, the anthropological researcher promotes detail over reductionism, since complexity is often bound to singularity. 3. Field Work and Methodology In the ensuing chapter the methodology is set forth, which I instigate by merging the abstract theoretical idea of fallibilism with my approach to the research field. Subsequently, the identification of the research site is being illustrated, to then expound how I accessed the field, how I established contacts, and how those contacts evolved into personal relationships. Afterwards, the data collection methods are briefly stated, to consecutively present the sampling approach which enabled me to grasp a consistent data foundation for the thesis. The methodology chapter is finally concluded by briefly describing issues concerning the privacy of the respondents and my personal safety in the field. 3.1 Methodology and Fallibilism Even though I was a complete outsider to Brazil and my research site, I decided only to read the most essential literature in the forerun of my inquiry. I wanted to prevent a bias by reading books chasing answers to questions that I would have found in existing works. As stated before, questions are seen as naturally given too often without scrutinizing their very existence. Moreover, the given literature focuses on few squatter settlements in Rio de Janeiro, while my research took place in Recife a completely different geographic setting. Instead, I decided to let my research field guide the content orientation through my participant observation, enabling me to avoid preconception. In that way, I could ethnographically lay down my experiences in a first step to then compare existing literature with my findings. Conjectures seem to be applicable before an experiment is carried out, if the object of research is well-known and can be accessed solely through literature, but a complex social field needs to be retrieved to then identify tangible questions that are defined by the life world itself and not by academic discourse in my opinion. The initial conjectures or questions are therefore identified through the interaction with my field (see Chapter 5. A Day in the Comunidade do Pina), which is defining the structure of the further thesis. 9

14 The defined structure is then being elaborated in different thematic chapters, which always consist of a structured elucidation of collected data and a subsequent discussion, in which theories give meaning to my findings. According to critical rationalism, not the observation itself gives significance to data, but its relevance in light of the literature. The discussion parts include corroborations and falsifications of existing literature by confronting different competing ideas with my observations. According to Popper (2000b) and reasonableness, the most common methodological approach is to research if there is a gap between theories and observations. If theories claim to be universal but my data suggests different results, I reject or partially refute them; if my data allows me to propose a new idea or a modification of an existing theory I will lay it down; and if I can corroborate the findings I strengthen the theory. If I formulate new ideas they have no claim to be true, but to be more accurate until a new research corroborates, or even better falsifies them, to create once again a more accurate stance. At this point, I want to recall again that no one actually knows, everyone is guessing, and if someone makes a better guess, we again can critically argue against this new posture. But as I mentioned before, society might not have many regularities and I do not look for them where I cannot find them. The distinctiveness of the field that I am studying also incorporates limitations of time, since the social is evolving; and scope, because my subject of critical reflection is Brazilian squatter settlements, yet my research evolves from the micro level and incorporates superior stages like city or region that do not necessarily reach the country itself. My thesis is in this sense often a description and interpretation of temporary, geographically limited or unique situations. The anthropologist prefers thick descriptions over simplifications and I am not different. This is by no means negative, since accounts beyond universal regularities serve as insight, as experience, as a means to understand different perspectives, as a way to show the existing plurality or even as a meaningful point of departure to progress in the academic field. Language in critical rationalism is a tool to make each other understand, so that an argument can be openly criticized on its clear content. Language must therefore be formulated clearly and transparent to transport information. For that reason, I attempted to write as comprehensible as possible. Whenever possible, I used primary data that I connected in a way to elucidate the picture. Even though Popper stated that reason is inherent to humans and one or the other individual can make the same statement (Popper, 2000c), I want my reader to see the roots, for the simple reason of accountability towards my respondents and to also share the experience of communicating with slum dwellers rather than to only develop interpretations. The literature I used for my analysis is on an abstraction level that mostly incorporates squatter settlements, slums, and Comunidades, with some exceptions that go beyond. This low abstraction level is due to the fact that there is sufficient literature available on the subject and that a more universal approach would mean to step back scientifically and produce another parallel structure to existing views on the topic. That would contradict the idea of critical rationalism to scientifically progress. 3.2 Identification of the Research Site When I arrived in Recife, I focused on getting inside a squatter settlement without having formulated a specific question, since I wanted my research field to guide the identification of the topic. Owing to the contacts of my professor in the Netherlands, I was enrolled as a guest student at the State 10

15 University of Pernambuco. In the social setting of the university, I could establish contacts which enabled me to move into a Comunidade. A student from the geography group was asked to support me in my first weeks in Brazil. I spent much time with her at the university. In our lunch breaks, we would go to a sidewalk restaurant to eat. The student was befriended by the restaurant owner who lived in a squatter settlement and was currently looking for a housemate. After we talked a few times, the restaurant owner proposed to move in with her and I spontaneously agreed. My initial contact to informal settlements in Brazil was a product of chance rather than a conscious decision. I could move into a Comunidade in Madalena, a quarter of Recife, which was described as relatively developed and safe. It served as a first impression of life in squatter settlements which was very different from the life in the formal city of Recife that I experienced before. Life took place in the street and as a foreigner people were eager to get to know me. In the first month of living in the Comunidade do Madalena, I learned about socializing and the way to communicate. It can be described as a casual and sociable environment in which openness exceeded any kind of superficiality. It gave me a first glance of the social dos and don ts and created a valuable source of knowledge that I needed when I was moving in my actual target area. In good conscience I can say that the don ts were rather limited and apparent. Religion, political standpoint, or sexual morals varied immensely among residents and accessing these topics overtly in heterogeneous groups often produced pledges for tolerance rather than actual insight. In private conversations, people conversely enjoyed talking to me about various topics, since I was considered an outsider and did not comment on or judge any statement. A professor of the State University of Pernambuco then finally enabled me to move into my actual research field. A student of hers was already conducting a study about informal community leadership of the site. This student connected me to a popular leader named Cicero, who offered me a place to stay for the following months in the squatter settlement, the Comunidade do Pina. The research site seemed to be very exciting, since it was neighboring one of the richest parts of the formal city and the student who conducted the investigation there told me about the processes of illegal real estate speculation within the boundaries of the Comunidade. The community leadership had in her eyes not the will and not the means to oppose this situation. It was an outstanding state of affairs that was different from stories that I heard at the university which promoted a rather romantic idea of the Luta, fight (commonly used to refer to fight for social justice). 3.3 Access, Contacts, and Field Relations The access point of my research was the community leader Cicero, who was introduced to me by the previously mentioned student who was already conducting a research in the squatter settlement. Cicero was the head of an NGO named CDVCA (Centro Defesa a Vida da Criança e do Adolescente, Life Protection Center of Children and Adolescents). He offered me a place to stay in the Comunidade do Pina, in an abandoned building that used to be a community kitchen, a failed social project of the past. The building was bordering the house of the CDVCA, allowing me to interact with the social field surrounding the NGO. Cicero also explained instantly when I met him that he was willing to support my undertaking, since the world should know what is happening in the Comunidade. A week after Cicero and I met for the first time, I moved into the abandoned building. At the beginning of my stay, I was quite skeptical as to how I was being perceived as a foreigner who wants to conduct research on living in a Comunidade, even though I would have had the means to live in a formal neighborhood. But my presence in the Comunidade was never questioned. People rather perceived it as a sign of my sincerity to want to understand the world they live in. On many 11

16 occasions when I was introduced by one resident to another, they would mention that I lived in the neighborhood myself indicating that I am part of the social landscape. After all, it was remarkably easy to get in touch with the inhabitants even easier than in the previous Comunidade. Many people simply approached me in the street asking what I was doing and I was always eager to explain my undertaking. I do not take myself too seriously and could make people laugh about my idea as a foreigner who has never been to Brazil to do research about a Comunidade. I was spending my days with residents and never demanded different standards for myself. I also got acquainted with Cicero quite well. He loved to talk, especially about leadership and the Comunidade and he seemed to be very happy that I would always listen to him. Cicero also introduced me to different Comunidade leaders to extend my network of sources. At one point, I started to offer English classes in the CDVCA, since I felt like contributing in the project. I befriended some of the course participants, which broadened opportunities to acquire research data. Initially, my social contacts were very much limited to the area I lived in. Yet, the course was attended by residents from the whole Comunidade do Pina, which is approximately a square mile in size. This is how I could further extend my network of friends, respectively research participants, to acquire a more balanced sample. Taken together, the social setting was welcoming and not challenging in any way. 3.4 Data Collection Methods According to Popper (2000a), sources of insight can be anything as long as they serve the function to generate knowledge. As an anthropological researcher, I engaged in a classical participant observation to access and research the field as member of the local social setting. Moreover, I conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews to actively target topics that do not evolve in everyday life and to access research participants that were not part of my daily routine. My theoretical deliberations regarding the data collection methods are shortly presented in the following section Participant Observation Through living and working with the community, the anthropologist comes to see the world through their eyes and understand in detail how beliefs are embedded in social structures (Green & Thorogood, 2004, p. 148). This theoretical explanation of an ethnographic undertaking was viable, thanks to the openness of the social entities constituting my field. My research participants allowed me to enter their life world as an active actor, letting me know how they perceive the world they are bound in. However, it is not enough to become an insider of the community, but to remain an outsider on an analytical level, since the accounts of reality that I documented needed to be translated into my theoretical stance. So while becoming part of the community, I had to observe my environment at the same time as a scientist (Green & Thorogood, 2004). The embeddedness sometimes made it difficult to also adopt an external position. Therefore, I needed to remind myself occasionally to take the stance of an outsider to not endanger my thinking as an analyst of the field. A field diary allowed me to keep that distance. I noted every evening the information that I obtained during the day which I regarded to be important. In doing so, I reflected upon my own position to lower the impact of my subjectivity as an embedded actor in the field. The data I noted in my field diary consisted of ethnographic interview data, meaning conversations with me as an active participant with an individual or in a group, but also conversations in which I was solely the listener. These oral accounts sometimes evolved naturally or intentionally through my partaking in the field, but in the course of my daily routine. The second feature I noted in my field diary was behavioral aspects or social expressions that underpinned the ideas or thoughts of my research. 12

17 3.4.2 Interviews The participant observation was very fertile, yet, the ethnographic data did not cover all content areas of my research and a more structured approach was needed. Moreover, I wanted to get to know the community leaders that were beyond reach over direct social contacts. I was associated with my neighborhood and Cicero, who introduced me to his befriended community leaders but not opponents of them. By accessing leaders through a formal request that referred to my research, I could surmount the association with Cicero and incorporate more data from leaders in my investigation (see 3.5 Sample). To exceed the limited scope of naturally occurring conversations and after formally addressing community leaders outside Cicero s social sphere, I requested residents and leaders to partake in interviews. The interview type that I applied for those willing to participate in the research is the semi-structured in-depth interview which is characterized by its flexibility. The interview questions are predefined, but allow for an adaption of the dialogue in reciprocity with the interviewees. New topics can be introduced in the course of the interview discussions, as questions are posed openly. Moreover, the interviewers can deviate from the predefined questions, following the interest of the researcher, rather than a fixed structure (Green & Thorogood, 2004). The interview structure allowed me to let the participants guide the conversations if they discussed knowledge I was interested in. 3.5 Sample I used the purposive sampling method to access respondents for the semi-structured in-depth interviews, meaning that I qualitatively steered the selection of the research participants. Consequentially, the residents of the Comunidade do Pina did not have equal chances to be selected, but instead I chose interviewees capable of representing the field, or in other words, that embodied the heterogeneity of the environment (Green & Thorogood 2004). The starting point of my sample was obviously my neighbors who constantly provided me with valuable ethnographic data. After I slowly established relationships with them, I simply asked if they would be willing to partake in an interview to access topics that were beyond reach in ethnographic conversations. Nearly all of them agreed and the interview sessions demonstrated that ethnographic data could be complemented with the additional accounts. To broaden the geographic scope of my research (since my neighborhood was only comprised of a small area of the squatter settlement), I queried the members of my neighborhood network if they could introduce possible interviewees from other parts of the Comunidade to conduct further interviews. They were very supportive, bringing me together with various residents who were often keen to engage in an interview. However, most of these interviewees were living in close proximity, since neighborhood ties were the social basis of interaction in the Comunidade. Even though the interviewees did not meet my geographic expectations, they were a very valuable source of insight. When I started offering English classes in the CDVCA, course participants fortunately lived in all areas of the Comunidade do Pina. They enabled me to collect further ethnographic data and were often willing to partake in the interviews. Many even introduced further eager participants from their neighborhoods, so that I could finally depict the whole informal settlement with my sample. While age, gender, and economic situation differed among the interviewees from the beginning of my undertaking, many participants were part of Pentecostal churches. This was simply due to the fact that my neighborhood was primarily inhabited by Pentecostals. Moreover, Cicero was strongly affiliated with that church and his networks which marketed my English course were mainly religious and hence attracted Pentecostals to my English classes. To the end of my time in the Comunidade do 13

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