Cadernos de Saúde Pública
Print version ISSN 0102-311X
BRICENO-LEON, Roberto. Urban violence and public health in Latin America: a sociological explanatory framework. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2005, vol.21, n.6, pp. 1629-1648. ISSN 0102-311X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2005000600002.
Interpersonal violence has become one of the main public health issues in Latin American cities. This article presents a framework for sociological interpretation that operates on three levels, expressed in the factors that originate, foment, or facilitate violence. Macro-social factors include: social inequality due to the increase in wealth versus poverty; the paradox of more schooling with fewer employment opportunities; increasing expectations and the impossibility of meeting them; changes in family structure; and loss of importance of religion in daily life. At the meso-social level the analysis highlights: increased density in poor areas and urban segregation; masculinity cult; and changes in the local drug market. The micro-social level includes: an increase in the number of firearms; alcohol consumption; and difficulties in verbal expression of feelings. The article concludes with an analysis of how violence is leading to the breakdown not only of urban life but also of citizenship as a whole in Latin America.
Keywords : Violence; Sociology; Urban Health; Citizenship.