3 Towards a Respatialized Marxism: Lefebvre, Harvey, and Castells

WITH our detour at an end, let us cross the threshold of the city in the company of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and Manuel Castells, the three most influential recent students of Marxism and the city.1 Through the study of the city, each has introduced space into the core of one or more of Marxism's projects. By examining their work, it is possible to assess the current status of the respatialized Marxism they have tried to fashion. This post-1960s Marxism of the city has shown how Marxist theory can powerfully illuminate things urban, and also how an explicitly urban focus can strengthen Marxism as social and empirical theory. But the fitful attention urbanists have paid to different aspects of Marxist theory has produced a lumpy legacy.

The work accomplished in the past quarter-century has treated Marx's project of understanding epochal change mainly as background to more current events. By contrast, it has successfully elaborated and deepened his project of the analysis of capitalism as an economic system, but, in spite of much effort, it has contributed only unsteadily to his project of a social theory for capitalist societies. The limitations of Marxist urban studies to date have been 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

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1
The discussion in this chapter of attempts to link Marxism and the city in the 1970s and 1980s is not a comprehensive review. I am silent about much of the great outpouring of work in this vein, principally by sociologists, geographers, and planners. The main features of this intellectual landscape are my concern here, less so its nuanced contours. To discern these, the best guides are the pages of three young journals: Antipode, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Society and Space.

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