Embeddedness and cohesion: regimes of urban public goods distribution

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Why do some urban governing regimes realize a more equal distribution of public goods than others? Local government interventions in São Paulo, Brazil, have produced surprisingly effective redistribution of residential public goods — housing and sanitation — between 1989 and 2016. I use original interviews and archival research for a comparative-historical analysis of variation across time in São Paulo’s governance of housing and sanitation. I argue that sequential configurations of a) “embeddedness” of the local state in civil society and b) the “cohesion” of the institutional sphere of the local state, explain why and when urban governing regimes generate the coordinating capacity to distribute public goods on a programmatic basis. I further illustrate how these configurations can explain variation in urban governing regimes across the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-144
Number of pages28
JournalTheory and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Bureaucracy
  • Governance
  • Housing
  • Movements
  • Sanitation
  • Urban inequality


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