The logic of informality: Pattern and process in a São Paulo favela

Raul P. Lejano, Corinna Del Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informality is thought of as a spontaneous, uncontrolled response to the mass urbanization rapidly sweeping the globe. Much of the new housing stock in the developing world is being provided for by the informal sector. Rather than treat this as an unplanned, liminal spatial practice, we should instead seek to better theorize and describe its socio-spatial logic. We propose that informal settlements do exhibit a complex logic that is grounded in practice, which we refer to as a logic of enactment. We develop a set of propositions for characterizing these logics, building on a Bourdieusian framework, and test these in Guapira II, a favela in São Paulo. Informal logic, as manifested in informal settlements, is seen to exhibit the characteristics of sociopoiesis and contextuality, constituting a complex rationality. The nature of design in the informal is a relational one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-205
Number of pages11
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Bourdieu
  • Favela
  • Informal settlement
  • Informality
  • Urban form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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