2.38 - Correcting the lens that observes and understands the phenomenon of urban informality: a theory-based evaluation of the land regularization program

Project Description

The main objective of this thesis is to design an evaluation method for land tenure regularization programs, implemented in the Brazilian municipal sphere. To do so, it approaches the theoretical-methodological perspectives: theory-based evaluation and complexity theory, in order to explore the explanatory bias and, thus, understand how the land regularization programs work.

Within the scope of evaluation guided by programme theory and complexity theory, the recent debate problematises the challenges in putting the principles of these approaches into practice. Both present in-depth critical debate, but lack implementation capacity. Thus, we built an evaluation process, called the learning circuit, which aims to contribute both to the practice of evaluation and to studies in this field. The Learning Loop is structured on two main elements: programme theories and diagrams of programme functioning, and its purpose is to trigger a process of learning, evaluation, monitoring and adjustment of the trajectory of programmes and future practices.

This approach to theory-based evaluation and complexity theory has highlighted the need to adjust the way in which we base land regularisation. Added to that, is the recent debate on land tenure regularization, which has highlighted the need to better understand the phenomenon of urban informality of land tenure/property, in order to break with the dichotomous trend established in recent years. Given this scenario, this paper seeks to problematise the way land tenure regularisation has been discussed and proposes a new form of organisation and conceptualisation. The result of this work is the proposition of six key elements or dimensions of this concept: urban, legal, social, environmental, economic and institutional.

From the implementation of the Learning Circuit, in the city of São Paulo/Brazil, it was possible to test the proposed method as well as to seek evidences for theoretical contributions to the thesis. Thus, within the scope of the proposed method, we can recognise the dynamics of the process of application of the theoretical assumptions of both theory-based evaluation and complexity theory, based on the two main elements: theories of the programme and diagrams of the programme's functioning. Furthermore, it was possible to identify, from this process, that it is possible to recognize, to the Brazilian case, the six dimensions proposed both for the organization of the theoretical debate and for the conceptualization of land regularization.

Thus, the thesis that the conjugation between the general theory (within the scope of land regularization) and the public practices (in the Brazilian context), through an evaluation process from the TBE perspectives and the complexity theory (within the scope of the evaluation of social programs), will result in learning processes that contribute to: i. the adjustment of the trajectory of the land regularization program; and ii. the correction of the lens that evaluates the urban phenomenon of land irregularity.

Keywords: land regularization, theory-based evaluation, complexity theory, public policy, São Paulo.

Research team
  • Tatiana Urbanovik Brandimiller
  • Paulo Santos Conceição (Supervisor)
Financial Support
  • Research Grant PD/BD/143101/2018 financed by national funds from the MCTES and co-financed by the European Social Fund
Time Frame
  • Concluded in 2022