Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Urban Sociology

Prof. Dr. Gabriel de Santis Feltran

Prof. Dr. Gabriel de Santis Feltran
gabrielfeltran (at)

Humboldt-Universität → Präsidium → Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät → Institut für Sozialwissenschaften → Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie
Visiting address
Universitätsstraße 3b , Room 302
Mailing address


Professor of the Sociology Department at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar)

Researcher at the CEM and at the CEBRAP

Doctorate in Social Sciences at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), with a doctorate collaborative at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)


Research Project: The margins of the city (to be coordinated by Gabriel Feltran)
The subject broadly known as the “margins of the city” have obtained relevant analytical status in contemporary social sciences. In Brazil, urban sociologists and anthropologists spent the last four decades analyzing the deep dislocations produced by democratization, economic globalization and State reforms in the social and political dynamics of urban outskirts. As a result, key-words on the debate on urban poverty, such as migration, industrial work, labor markets, social policies, family, religion, violence and illegal markets have had their content deeply transformed.
In São Paulo, the expansion of marginal populations and territories is evident. Drug trafficking, car theft, electronic piracy, smuggling, burglary are no longer exclusively associated to urban violence. Instead, they are mainly highly profitable established markets that operate on transnational scale, in spite of being territorialized in strategic points of large metropolis as the São Paulo city, specially in its urban outskirts.
The main objective of this research project is to investigate – by ethnographic fieldwork – the social circuits of the so-called marginal urban groups and territories in São Paulo city. Therefore, the life of informal and illegal workers, immigrants, refugees, criminals, homeless and prostitutes is its subject.
This project will submit to empirical test the argument that the way marginal populations live is explained by the absence of connections either to the State or to social organizations. It will scrutinize the conventional wisdom that describes those marginal populations as those that “do not have” or as "outsiders".
Instead, preliminary evidence suggests that examining the actual relationships those individuals and groups establish among themselves and with other social groups or individuals from different social realms, such as family, labor market, churches, social workers, the organized crime, and the State can be a fruitful way to better understand the true government of the periphery.
The specific objectives of this project are:
  • to describe and analyze the social codification of daily life and the internal forms of management of these territories and populations (internal moralities, codes of conduct, hierarchy, sociability etc.);
  • to describe the relationships between these subjects and other social and political spheres, like family, work, associations, politics, religion, police, and organized crime.
In order to enhance the robustness of research results, the project will collect data about “marginal circuits” in two different urban areas:
  • the Sapopemba district, on the eastern outskirts of São Paulo city and
  • a medium-size city (200,000 inhabitants) in the north of São Paulo State.