- Insecure Democracy: Crime Risks and Political Behavior in Brazil
- Sarah M. Brooks (Political Science)
- How does crime affect political participation in Brazil? In recent decades, Brazil experienced a transition to democracy along with the decentralization of important budgetary decisions to the local level. The country also has been beset with high rates of poverty and surging violence; indeed, homicide rates in Brazil are among the highest in the world. Despite the opening of new opportunities to press demands upon the state for improved services and protections, civic engagement has instead waned. This project examines the linkage between crime and the practice of democratic politics. Specifically, it focuses on how individuals' personal experiences of vulnerability, along with neighborhood-level contexts of crime and deprivation, affect patterns of political participation. I plan to undertake a household survey in São Paulo, Brazil, and to collect neighborhood-level data on crime, social welfare program coverage, and an array of socioeconomic, political and demographic characteristics. I will link these data in a spatial econometric analysis of the effect of insecurity on political behavior. The research will involve interdisciplinary collaboration with scholars analyzing spatial patterns of violence in Brazil, including those at the University of São Paulo's Center for the Study of Violence. I also hope to collaborate with scholars affiliated with the Center for Criminal Justice at Ohio State who are engaged in research on the spatial analysis of crime and individual behavior in other disciplines. This project aims to contribute to our understanding of the ways in which violent crime shapes political behavior both through the micro-level experience of insecurity by individuals in possession of varied means of protection against crime, and through the contextual impact of neighborhood crime and political mobilization.