Imagination and mobility in the city: porosity of borders and human development in divided urban environments

Sandra Jovchelovitch, María Cecilia Dedios-Sanguineti, Mara Nogueira-Teixeira, Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez

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We focus on the notion of borders to explore how mobility and immobility in the city affect the relationship between human development and urban culture. We define borders as a relational space made of territoriality, representations, and different possibilities of mobility and immobility. Drawing on research in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, we suggest a systematic approach to the analysis of borders and identify the socio-institutional, spatial, and symbolic elements that make them more or less porous and thus more or less amenable to human mobility. We highlight the association between porosity in city borders and human development and illustrate the model contrasting two favela communities in Rio de Janeiro. We show that participation in the sociocultural environment by favela grassroots organisations increases the porosity of internal city borders and contributes to the development of self, communities, and the city. To focus on borders, their different elements and levels of porosity means to address simultaneously the psychosocial and cultural layers of urban spaces and the novel ways through which grassroots social actors develop themselves through participation and semiotic reconstruction of the socio-cultural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-696
Number of pages21
JournalCulture & Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • human development
  • social representations
  • Identity
  • urban culture
  • borders
  • community development
  • peripheral urbanization
  • social development
  • favelas
  • RCUK
  • ESRC
  • ES/M011607/1


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