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The Dynamics of Criminal Governance: Networks and Social Order in Rio de Janeiro


Academic analyses of crime and policing in Latin America have generally focused on the failure of state institutions to guarantee a rule of law. This study, however, argues that the persistently high levels of violence in Rio's favelas [shantytowns] result not from the failure of institutions but, rather, from networks that bring criminals together with civic leaders, politicians, and police. These contacts protect traffickers from state repression and help them build political support among the residents of the where they favelas operate. Rather than creating ‘parallel states’ outside of political control, then, these networks link trafficker dominated favelas into Rio's broader political and social system.

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The author would like to thank Leigh Payne, Michael Schatzberg, Richard Merelman, Jay Krishnan, Robert Gay, Javier Auyero and Mauricio Font for comments that have helped strengthen this article.
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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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