Jacinto Cuvi


Welcome to my site.

Jacinto-148I am assistant professor of sociology and development studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), where I head the center for development studies (CECID). I received a Ph.D. in sociology 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 legal 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 developments, from entrepreneurial urbanism to postindustrial market society. I am currently working on a book manuscript.

I have also written about the life and work of a Mexican immigrant  in the edited volume Invisible in Austin (UT Press) and taxation. My new lines of research focus on the protection of informal workers during the pandemic and on workers’ transition to formal employment.

Peer-reviewed publications

2022, with Kimsa Maradan. “The Fitting Process: Getting a Formal Job at a Luxury Hotel in Vietnam.” Sociology of Development. Publisher website, Version of record (available for download).

2021, with Camille Budon and Christian Suter. “The New World of Work: Current Trends and Uncertain Prospects” in The Future of Work edited by Christian Suter, Jacinto Cuvi, Philip Balsiger, and Mihaela Nedelcu. Seismo Verlag.

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 scientific and organizing committees 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 panel discussion I organized on the future of sociology featuring Craig Calhoun and Noortje Marres is available on YouTube.


Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)

Swiss National Science Foundation Doc.Mobility Fellowship

National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Foundation for Urban and Regional Research Studentship

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Latin America

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


jacinto.cuvi [  at  ] ulb.be