This article examines recent social uprisings in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in order to discuss the impact of social movements on public policy, on new practices and political subjects and, more generally, on the urban imaginary. It specifically discusses the action of two urban movements: the Free Fare Movement and the movement for adequate housing. Our theoretical framework is based on the view of philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre: in present conditions of urbanization and modernization, social struggles are predominantly spatial struggles, that is, a struggle to participate – in terms of redistribution, access and active voice – in the production of the collective work that the urban phenomenon is. The analysis is divided in two parts. The first block is a diagnosis of the impacts of the global economic crisis in Brazilian cities, highlighting the local history of irruptions in urban life. The second block discusses the recent course of certain social movements and balances the matters that approximate and disconnect them: Movimento Passe Livre – MPL (Free Fare Movement) and the movement for adequate housing, more specifically Frente de Luta por Moradia – FLM (Housing Struggle Front) and Movimento de Trabalhadores Sem Teto – MTST (Homeless Workers Movement).