Part of the series International Year of Planet Earth pp 151-164


Phobopolis: Violence, Fear and Sociopolitical Fragmentation of the Space in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Marcelo Lopes de SouzaAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Prédio do CCMN Email author 

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Against the background of the evolution of Brazil’s economy especially in the last 20 years, this chapter analyses recent trends related to the worsening situation in terms of socio-spatial segregation and social conflict in Rio de Janeiro since the beginning of the 1980s. Sociopolitical fragmentation of the space (constituted above all by the formation of enclaves dominated by drug-trafficking organisations, on the one hand, and self-segregation of the elites in gated communities, on the other hand) and ‘phobopolisation’ (i.e. an urbanisation process which is decisively influenced by increasing fear of crime and violence) are identified as key characteristics of Rio de Janeiro (along with many other big cities) today. What can be done to cope with the new challenges for state and civil society in a city in which violence, lack of public safety and fear have become central features of daily life? It seems that progressive local-level measures and policies can probably only, in the best of all cases, contribute to reducing the problem, rather than eradicating it.


Urban space Violence Sociopolitical fragmentation Phobopolis Rio de Janeiro