Surviving in the city : The urban poor of Santiago de Chile 1930-1970

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis deals with the survival patterns of the urban poor in Santiago de Chile during a period of profound structural changes (1930-1970).Using a qualitative approach and a dynamic analysis, the life histories of 54 interviewees are studied in the framework of the historical, economic, social and cultural conditions of the period.The resulting picture is multifaceted, tending to vary according to factors such as the course of time, gender, age, geographical considerations, individual characteristics, ideological aspects and unexpected events.The urban poor live in a very precarious economic situation that barely covers their basic needs. Unforeseen events easily can develop into a catastrophe. Any eventual crisis hits the directly affected most severely, but also affects their relatives and acquaintances because poverty is both individually and collectively lived. The urban poor conscientiously try to obtain social esteem from their surroundings and the weight of non-economic factors is fundamental to their survival patterns. The lack of economic resources is, to some extent, compensated by plentiful social resources.The immediate environment of the urban poor, and as a consequence many of their survival activities, changes very quickly. The urban poor normally react to situations that are beyond their control. The most successful among them have developed a great capability to quickly react in response to unexpected changes, thus obtaining advantages or reducing possible negative effects.

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