The Consolidation of the Latin American City and the Undermining of Social Cohesion

Authors

  • Bryan R. Roberts

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
      Bryan R. Roberts, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A1700, Austin, TX 78712; brr@prc.utexas.edu
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Bryan R. Roberts, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A1700, Austin, TX 78712; brr@prc.utexas.edu

Abstract

The paper examines possible sources of urban disorder and their impact on social disorganization in two times periods in Latin America. The first period is that of the region's rapid urbanization (c. 1950–1980) and the second is the current period of low rates of urbanization and slow urban growth, particularly true of the largest cities. Unlike in the US, Latin American urbanization in the first period produced social disorganization that in turn gave rise to social organization and local cohesion. The paper focuses on the intervening factors that mediate the link between poverty/inequality and social cohesion. These include the pattern of settlement of the city through different types of migration, the pattern of residential segregation in the city, and the nature of poverty. Social cohesion is defined in terms of the nature of social relationships and in terms of feelings of trust and identity with others at both neighborhood and city level. The spatial, demographic, and economic sources of disorder are hypothesized to have a positive impact on social cohesion in the first period relative to the second period when the impact is more negative.

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