Since the subordinate classes did not leave organized archives about their practices, she justifies the use of sambas, newspapers, photographs, political speeches, reports from public agencies, bills, legislations, letters, and legal cases, among other documents, to understand the strategies of the poor in the conquest of citizenship. The material accumulated by the author is eclectic, dispersed in a myriad of places and institutions, and establishes various cultural filters to represent urban poverty.
By reading a kaleidoscopic of records, added to the analysis of the specific bibliography about the relationship between law and citizenship, she manages to raise relevant problems in the analysis of the sociability and practices of subordinate groups. To analyze the heterogeneous documentary corpus accumulated, the analysis is organized in four parts which have a certain autonomy, and each of which consists of two chapters. In the first part, entitled "Rights in the Cidade Maravilhosa ," she analyzes the process of the formation of urban space in Rio de Janeiro and the classification of the poor population's forms of habitation.
She is interested in emphasizing how the construction of the illegality of forms of habitation and living in the city, the restriction of the political space dominated by the interference of the federal government, and the legislative restrictions on the growth of favelas, contributed to the reproduction of a clientelist incorporation of the poor in urban politics.
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The enactment of labor legislation, Vargas' discourse incorporating the worker in the national political community, and the strategies of popular groups to win social rights are the axis of his analysis. In the third part, entitled "Law of the poor in the Criminal Court", she analyzes how crime was defined by criteria of the judicial system and popular morality, and how this came of forces was altered by the reform of the Penal Code in the s with the emergence of the idea of 'previous life.
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The Vargas Era was a period of great transformations in regards to the rights of the working class. This political and social fact has already been analyzed by different authors, and has become a classical theme in Brazilian historiography.
Fischer manages to bring a novelty to this question, as she does not restrict the analysis to social and political rights, but looks at how the penal and urban reforms of Rio de Janeiro also affected the citizenship of popular groups. Mass politics and the Electoral Code, the right to the city and the Works Code of Rio de Janeiro, civil law and the Penal Code, and social rights and the Consolidation of Labor Laws are the concerns of her analysis, as is shown in the division of the parts of the book.
The author shows that the winning of rights for the 'poor,' for informal workers, and a significant part of the Brazilian population without civil registration, resulted in situations of great ambiguity. Far from developing a linear narrative of the evolution of the state and society in the sedimentation of rights, as in the classic analysis of T.
Marshall in Citizenship, social class and status , or incorporating the discourse of the political ideologies which transformed Vargas into a myth, the author present the contingency of the situations experienced by the 'poor.
By stressing the process of the formation of rights and citizenship, Fischer emphasizes that the poor "formed the numerical majority in various Brazilian cities, and that they shared experiences of few conquests, political exclusion, social discrimination, and residential segregation," shaping "an identity and in some moments a common agenda" Fischer, , p. She understands that his group has not been researched in a verticalized manner, since the social history of the period between the s has privileged the analysis of the working class conscience, of afro-descendants, foreign immigrants, and women.
According to the author,.
Very few people actually belonged to the organized working class; many racial and regional identities competed with each other in many spheres; many cultural, economic, and personal ties linked the poorest to clients, employers, and protectors from other social categories; while in addition many migrants went to the city to feed their hopes. The poor people in Rio understood themselves, in part as women and men, in part as white and black, natives or foreigners, working class or not.
However, they also understood themselves as a specific segment, simply as poor people trying to survive in the city.
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Fischer, , p. Fischer also stresses that the experience of urban poverty cannot be reduced to the definition of the working class in the class Marxist sense.
Reducing the experience of urban poverty to a class situation incurs the risk of losing the ethnic, racial, and gender dimensions which mold the identities and relations woven with various socio-political authorities. Social inequality is seen in the book as a condition involved in various types of situations and which transversally cuts across the relations woven in Brazilian state and society. For this reason A Poverty of Rights is an important work for renewing studies about citizenship in the period before the s and the social history of urban poverty in Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro: Ed. FGV, Rio de Janeiro: Ponteio, Cidadania, classe social e status. As the chart below shows, the average income gap between emerging markets such as China and India and a developed market such as Germany is staggering. The chart plots the proportion of people from individual countries in each global income percentile.
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It shows how different income classes of countries rank internationally when their incomes are expressed in purchasing power parity terms. The chart shows that even the bottom income percentile class in Germany earns more than what the average citizen of the world or the global median class earns. The contrast between a developed and relatively equal economy such as Germany and a developing and relatively unequal economy such as India is stark.
Income distribution in India is relatively unequal.
But despite such inequalities, most Indians rank very low in the global distribution of income. Income data for India is based on consumption expenditure surveys and hence is likely to underestimate the incomes of the rich. Nonetheless, the income gap between an average Indian and a poor German is strikingly large even if one accounts for the under-estimation bias in case of India.
As Milanovic points out , such large inter-country differences have profound implications for determining policies against inequality. While individually, one cannot do much about the accident of birth other than migrate to a high-income country, national policies can play a part in mitigating global inequalities.