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Revista INVI

versión On-line ISSN 0718-8358

Revista INVI v.25 n.68 Santiago mayo 2010 

Revista INVI N°68/Mayo 2010/volumen 25: 9-13


In this issue, Revista INVI addresses two aspects of a phenomenon present in the development of cities, and especially Latin American cities: socio-spatial exclusion and the efforts for generating integration or, at least, access to welfare and basic services for everyone.

Concerns about social exclusion are growing in accordance with the conceptual advance caused by what specialized literature calls “multidimensionalist trend” of inequality and poverty studies. This tendency came up as a counterpoint to “economic trend.”

The “multidimensionalist trend” advocates for the need for developing a comprehensive approach to human welfare, incorporating additional dimensions to income or consumption, as this is only one of the variables that determine the satisfaction of needs and, ultimately, welfare. Other important needs could be the right to access to governmental goods and services, assets or accumulated basic patrimony ownership, time available for education, rest, recreation and household work, as well as ownership of non-basic assets.

In this way, this trend is focused on the access to essential goods and services that are important to the process of creation and expansion of capacities, as it generates primary conditions for people to satisfy their basic –and varied- needs; to live well; and to achieve social integration. Therefore, studies about social welfare have been incorporating topics such as assets, vulnerability, social exclusion and the opportunities people have to live the “lives they have reasons to value” (paraphrasing Amartya Sen.)

Research about socio-spatial segregation in cities, and the efforts for tackling it, are part of this kind of analysis. These types of studies are aimed to show the possible relationships between housing settlements and the spatial segregation produced by the competition for appropriation of land, mediated by the price of it. This fact could be an effect of the processes of development, expansion and territorial dispersion of cities. A clear example of this consequence is the difference in spaces where different socioeconomic groups live and interact, with few points of contact among them.

In relation to this last point, experts have been studying the emergence of a “model of fragmented city”, characterized by the proliferation of closed neighborhoods, housing areas for middle income groups, territories of social housing and spaces for commerce and services. As a result, researchers have identified new forms of social segregation.

This issue of Revista INVI invites a reflection on this topic. It offers a set of articles written by prominent Latin American academics and researchers, who present varied evidence from the different cases that conform the current edition.

The article of Paola Jirón, Carlos Lange and María Bertrand analyzes the daily mobility problems of the big (fragmented) city, as well as the resulting exclusion for a segment of the population.

The analysis of Ingrid Vargas, Eduardo Jiménez, Alejandro Grindlay and Carlos Torres shows an original initiative for social integration of poor housing settlements into an average Colombian city; this plan also includes a university cooperation project. The initiative -focused on supporting a process of neighborhood improvement, including community participation- has been implemented in a concrete case and its results should be taken into consideration for similar cases.

The work of Nicolás Gissi and Paula Soto shed light on the social integration process of a territory inhabited by people from Oaxaca. It shows the transition from a stigmatized area to the current pride of its neighbors as a result of the improvement of communal amenities. Gissi and Soto argue that strengthening of communal organization was essential for such change.

The article of Aline María Costa and Agustín Hernández presents the results of research aimed at establishing if public policy instruments allows for people from poor settlements to secure the tenure of land. The study contrasts cases of Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

The research of Antoine Casgrain analyzes the demands for social housing debt cancellation and Chilean State interventions. It also argues that, instead of putting an end to arrears, public policies implemented to tackle the problem caused more demands for debt cancellation.

By diffusing these interesting articles, Revista INVI hopes to contribute to the necessary debate regarding the effects of socio-spatial segregation in the city. Such discussions will provide effective methods to address this growing problem.

Mauricio Olavarría Gambi.

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