RESUMO DA TESEIn the world nowadays the urban is becoming predominant. More than half of the world's population is living in urban environments. New urbanization and mobility forms are becoming more and more important in people's lives. The social processes in all dimensions are mainly evolving to new territories in multiple scales. Complex urban systems are being created and updated, including urban forms that are sprawled. This thesis analyses the contemporary urbanization processes, specially the urban sprawl, and also its origins, theoretical references and concepts, with light to the historical events in the Vale do Paraíba fluminense Microregion, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This dispersion process occurs with the formation of urbanized areas sprawled over a vast territory, with distinct but strongly linked urban cores that are separated by interstitial voids. What is presented, initially, are the theoretical-conceptual aspects of the broad phenomenon that form the basis to the contemporary urbanization and the process of urban sprawl. The relations of space, urban forms and places as well as globalization and connections in physical and informational networks are discussed as well as the antecedents and origins of the urban sprawl. This process is explained from the urban transformations that begun Post-World War II, its perception, evolution and unfolds. International and national examples are also discussed. Vale do Paraíba fluminense Microregion - object of empirical analysis of this thesis - is studied from the beginning of its industrialization, which started during the 1930s, marked by the installation of the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) by Brazilian government. Since then, this microregion had a significant population increase and fast urbanization, with the CSN-Volta Redonda area polarizing the region and centralizing its development. After CSN's privatization, in 1993, the microregion started to be productively and spatially restructured, with the installation of new industrial plants - mainly in the automotive sector. The arrival of these factories attracted new trade and services industries, and also new residential uses, bringing new lifestyle choices for the population. The origins, motivations and consequences of the current transformations that brought the process of urban sprawl to the Vale do Paraíba fluminense Microregion are analyzed, including a comparison with the Vale do Paraíba paulista Microregion (state of São Paulo). The hypotheses formed in this thesis are related to the existence and inductors of the urban sprawl process at the Vale do Paraíba fluminense Microregion. This includes the urban forms contemporarily established, opposed to the concentrated forms of the previous urbanization and to the old regional polarization. At the end of this thesis, the hypotheses are reintroduced conclusively and the contemporary regional transformations are highlighted. The old industrial cities became cores of trade and services, while other cities of this microregion became industrialized. Reflections are made on regional development, on needs of planning, on regional structuring and articulation, and also on choices of metropolitan lifestyles.
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