From Feudalism to Capitalism: The Place of the City

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

 From Feudalism to Capitalism: The Place of the City

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One area where Marxism has dealt with the city is the transition from feudalism to capitalism, although this discussion has been satisfactory only in part, since too much is compressed in the very idea of this epochal transformation. Marxism's conception of feudalism has been too narrow: it has treated some 500 years of history in terms of a single direction of change, and it has flattened the dimensions and varieties of transition. Further, Marxism's insistence on parallel treatment as modes of production for feudalism (which fused sovereignty and property), and for capitalism (which did not), is misplaced. Yet even if Marxism's discussion of the transition has been flawed, it is here that some of the most important attempts to make cities a constitutive part of a key historical and theoretical problem are found. This chapter broadens and shifts the terms of this engagement of Marxism with the city – by so doing, it is possible to shed some light on the impact cities had on large‐scale change in early modern Europe, and, in turn, on the ways cities as places were altered by the demise of feudalism.

Keywords: capitalism; cities; demise of feudalism; early modern Europe; Europe; feudalism; forces of production; Marxism; property; sovereignty

Chapter.  17439 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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