Capital Conversion in the Organized Crime of the Favelas

Adriana Gutierrez


Segregated in the hills of Rio de Janeiro, favelas are socially and economically marginalized slums, with pervasive drug crime. As a result of limited government intervention, drug lords assume the mandate in these sectors, reinforcing poverty and social exclusion.

Traditional approaches to poverty analyze this context with capital scarcity as a point of reference.  Moreover, the concept of capital has been used to denounce structural inequalities that are reproduced in social classes. By the same token, it is argued that the accumulation of capital may lead to social mobility. Low-income neighborhoods have their own resources and forms of mobilization.  Conditions of precariousness can be explored without focusing on the absence of resources, but rather on the ways in which local capital gets mobilized and converted.  In the favelas, drug gangs have their own capital dynamics that make them acquire and retain control over the territory. 

 In this paper, I examine how capital conversion and mobilization among members of organized crime in these districts of Rio de Janeiro reinforce structural inequalities by perpetuating social exclusion. 



symbolic capital, cultural capital, capital conversion, social mobilty

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