Jacinto Cuvi


Welcome to my site.


I am sociologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in comparative politics from Sciences Po. I specialize on the politics of disenfranchised labor. How do informal workers relate to the state? And how do state officials engage workers at the margins of the law?

I did my dissertation fieldwork in Sao Paulo, Brazil, researching street vendors. Most street vendors face relentless police repression in the daily conduct of business, but some enjoy protection thanks to municipal licenses. In a series of articles that came out of that fieldwork, I tease out the long-term consequences of licensing, the responses to a large-scale eviction campaign, and the impacts of the 2014 soccer World Cup. The purpose of my work is to capture the on-the-ground effects of global political economic trends, from neoliberal urbanism to postindustrial global society. I am currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled The Politics of Hope.

I have also written about the life of an immigrant worker from Mexico and I supervised a master’s thesis on workers’ transition to formal employment in Vietnam. Finally, I played a leading role in the organization of the 2019 congress of the Swiss Sociological Association on the future of work (see program).

Peer-reviewed publications

2019. “Symbolic Capital, Informal Labor, and Postindustrial Markets: The Dynamics of Street Vending during the 2014 World Cup in São Paulo.” Theory & Society, 48(2), 217-238. Accepted manuscriptversion of record. 

2019. “The Peddlers’ Aristocracy: Social Closure, Path-Dependence, and Street Vendors in São Paulo.” Qualitative Sociology, 42(1), 117-138. Accepted manuscriptversion of record.

2016. “The Politics of Field Destruction and the Survival of São Paulo’s Street Vendors.”Social Problems, 63(3), 395-412. Accepted manuscript, version of record.

2015. “Santos: The Gold Hunter” in Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City, edited by Javier Auyero, pp. 42-58. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Project website,  chapter.


I was a member of the organizing committee of the 10th Ecole Doctorale d’Eté du Rédoc and of the 2019 Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association on the Future of Work. The video of a plenary I organized with Craig Calhoun and Noortje Marres on the future of sociology is available on YouTube.


British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)

Swiss National Science Foundation Doc.Mobility Fellowship, $ 35,000

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, $ 10,279

Foundation for Urban and Regional Research Studentship, $17,500

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Latin America, $24,000

Ministère Français des Affaires Etrangères et Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger (AEFE) Bourse d’Excellence et Bourse Major, $75,000


jacinto.cuvi [  at  ] unine.ch