Department of Sociology

Jacinto Cuvi

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin


Informal Labor, Economic Sociology, Development, Urban Sociology, Latin America


I am a PhD in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. I recently defended my dissertation and I will graduate in the spring of 2017. My advisor is Javier Auyero. My research focuses on informal labor in Brazil’s economic capital, São Paulo. Informal workers engage in small-scale, off-the-books economic activities that are neither criminal nor entirely compliant with the law. According to the ILO, almost 50 percent of employment in Latin America is informal.

Using ethnographic observation, archival research, and survey data analysis, I examine how the survival strategies of informal workers—especially street vendors—are shaped by changes in the urban environment. I dissect the impacts of urban renewal policies and sports mega-events (i.e., the 2014 World Cup). And I examine the potential of licensing as well as other policy initiatives that extend the rights of informal workers.

Before coming to UT, I obtained a master’s degree in comparative politics from Sciences Po Paris. My doctoral research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Foundation for Urban and Regional Research, and the Andrew W. Mellow Foundation. My work has been published in Social Problems, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies, and the book Invisible in Austin (UT press). 


SOC 307N • Intro To Soc Of Development

44890 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CLA 0.102

Course Description:

How do the urban poor survive in Bangladesh if they can’t find a job? Why is Russia’s capital the second city with the largest number of billionaires? And is repression the best way to deal with gang violence in Central America? This course is designed to introduce students to major concepts and ideas in the study of development and social well-being around the globe. The first part of the course will present the key players, basic trends, and main indicators used in the field. In the second part, we will discuss theories of economic development, exploring the causes and consequences of development disparities across world regions. The third and final section will take a closer look at the forces that shape social and economic change on the ground, from international organizations and NGOs to drug cartels and social movements, with a special focus on Latin America. Students with an interest in the global economic system as well as students seeking to add an international perspective to questions of growth, trade, and inequality in their home country will benefit from this class.



Curriculum Vitae

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  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086