Capitalism, City Space, and Class Formation: A Journey Organized By Friedrich Engels

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

 Capitalism, City Space, and Class Formation: A Journey Organized By Friedrich Engels

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The previous chapter showed that neither David Harvey nor Manuel Castells in the early 1980s tackled the limitations of Marxist urban studies persuasively, each in his own way abandoning the project of Marxist social theory, whose central questions concern the joining together of structure and agency in a single hand. This chapter presents an analysis of the route taken by Friedrich Engels in his early work on cities in The Condition of the Working Class in England; in his compressed discussion of Manchester and other early industrial revolution urban centres, Engels blazed a road that has not been travelled either by Marxism or by students of the city, and identified mechanisms that connect structure and agency. The provocative union of Marxism and the city proposed by Engels had nothing to say about the history, character, and activities of national states. His contribution, rather, lies in the way he raised fundamental questions in three dimensions that correspond to each of Marx's theoretical projects: (1) questions about the linkages between large‐scale processes, principally the development of capitalism, and the emergence of the modern capitalist city; (2) questions about the linkages between the city as a point in the accumulation process and its internal forms; and (3) questions about the linkages between these forms and the development of class and group consciousness. These are the tasks entailed in joining Marxism and the city, and these are the questions explored in the remaining chapters of the book.

Keywords: capitalism; cities; city space; class consciousness; class formation; emergence of the modern capitalist city; Friedrich Engels; group consciousness; industrial revolution; linkage between structure and agency; Marxism; Marxist social theory; Marxist urban studies; social theory; structure and agency; urban studies

Chapter.  6176 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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