Towards a Respatialized Marxism: Lefebvre, Harvey, and Castells

Ira Katznelson

in Marxism and the City

Published in print September 1993 | ISBN: 9780198279242
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601910 | DOI:

Series: Marxist Introductions

 Towards a Respatialized Marxism: Lefebvre, Harvey, and Castells

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The most important urban studies within Marxism since the 1960s are examined by looking at the work of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and Manuel Castells, the three most influential recent students of Marxism and the city, who, through the study of the city, have introduced space into the core of one or more of Marxism's three projects. By examining their work, it is possible to assess the current status of the respatialized Marxism they have tried to fashion, and this post‐1960s Marxism of the city has shown how Marxist social theory can powerfully illuminate things urban, and also how an explicitly urban focus can strengthen Marxism as social and empirical theory. The work accomplished in the past quarter‐century has treated Marx's project of understanding epochal change mainly as background to more current events, although it has successfully elaborated and deepened his project of the analysis of capitalism as an economic system. However, in spite of much effort, it has contributed only unsteadily to Marx's project of a social theory for capitalist societies. The limitations of these Marxist urban studies are identified as being due principally to a certain narrowness of subject matter, a lack of engagement with history, and a restrictive treatment of the issues central to, but difficult for, Marxist social theory: base and superstructure, structure and agency, and causal determination, which neither Harvey nor Castells tackled persuasively in their later work in the 1980s.

Keywords: capitalist societies; cities; David Harvey; Henri Lefebvre; Manuel Castells; Marxism; Marxist social theory; respatialized Marxism; social theory; urban studies

Chapter.  18049 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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