Studies dedicated to favelas in Rio de Janeiro show intense and diverse daily lives challenging violent stereotypes and stigmas imposed on them by hegemonic representations. Its youth non-violent protests also show contradictions and conflicts, revealing social and urban complexities. This paper aims at deepening our knowledge of these experiences, calling attention to their different political insertion in the public arena, built on social movements that transform culture into a political aesthetic attitude to face human rights violations, harassments, and their political organization to claim these rights in the public sphere. Both types of youth responses – socio-cultural and socio-political – have been studied recently: the Favela Observatory mapped the cultural movements through an extensive field research with two thousand slum youngsters; graduate students at the of the Federal Fluminense University conducted a probabilistic survey with participants of the June 2013 protests, allowing us to speculate on the participation of the middle-classes youth in the demonstrations. Among the main findings are the numerous cultural territories manifested in non-hegemonic ways in the favelas and the very different participation of upper and lower middle class youngsters in protests against the neoliberal policies adopted by current governments in Brazil.
Keywords: slums youth, strategic planning, hegemonic representations, violence, cultural responses.