Henri Lefebvre and the Production of Space

“There is a Politics of Space because Space is Political”

Stuart Elden – Department of Government, Brunel University, UK [1]


This paper will look at the work of the French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre (1901-91), who came to prominence in the 1930s with the first translation of Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts . His first important work, Dialectical Materialism , was published in 1939, and he continued working right up until his death, producing nearly seventy books. Lefebvre is relatively little known in Britain, at least compared to other Marxist writers who were his contemporaries, such as Sartre and Althusser. This is part due to the limited availability of his work in English – only nine of his books are translated: four of which have appeared in the last few years. This has heavily skewed the way he has been read and received in this country. There are no full length studies in English, and much of the secondary literature is patchy or partial.

The limited length of this paper precludes a detailed situation of Lefebvre’s work, but a few important points should be born in mind. First, Lefebvre was always interested in the relationship between Hegel and Marx, and through this idealism and materialism. Instead of matter being seen as the embodiment of mental constructs, or mind being seen as the reaction to matter, Lefebvre sees both material and mental together. It is the fusion of the idealist and materialist notions, that enable an idealist and materialist approach to questions of life and lived experience (see DM). [2] Second, Lefebvre saw Marx’s work as important, indeed essential, to an understanding of our times, but not something that could stand alone. To this purpose he incorporated many of the insights of other thinkers, notably Heidegger and Nietzsche. This influence was apparent in the work on space, and in what Lefebvre called his most well known concept (LCP, 78), the critique of everyday life. Lefebvre was the one of the first to see Marx as a theorist of alienation, and, contra Althusser, to emphasise the continuity between the early and late works. Within the concept of everyday life is a clear use of Marx’s notion of alienation, fused with Heidegger’s understanding of Alltäglichkeit.[3]

Lefebvre’s recent reception in the English speaking world has been almost exclusively in the fields of geography and urban studies, where the 1991 translation of The Production of Space has received serious critical attention. His reception in the fields of political theory and philosophy has been somewhat muted. My intention in this paper is to show how Lefebvre’s work can provide the political theorist with a useful set of conceptual tools for mapping the spatiality of politics and history, rather than simply explaining the politics and history of space.

The Rural, The Urban, and the Global

Lefebvre’s notion of everyday life has been usefully situated between the two principal movements of post-war French theory. [4] Rather than the bracketing of phenomenology, or the denial of experience found in structuralism, Lefebvre wishes to see how the structures, signs and codes of the everyday integrate with the biographical life. Lefebvre utilises this notion in his urban and rural sociology. Little of his work on the rural has been translated into English, but far more of his work on the urban is available, especially given the 1996 translated collection Writings on Cities . Lefebvre’s understanding of space was further developed in The Survival of Capitalism , which suggested that the reshaping of the global spatial economy was an important historical development. In his initial sketches of the practical understanding of space Lefebvre rehearses themes that would find theoretical backing in The Production of Space .

The relationship between the town and the countryside is, for Lefebvre, a historical relationship, with the mediating role being played by industrialisation and the advance of technology. The industrial society has, Lefebvre argues, been supplanted by urban society. This was only just beginning in Marx’s time, so it is therefore understandable that he failed to perceive that “the production of the city was the end, the objective and the meaning of industrial production ” (EL, 195; see also WC, 65ff, 130). Writing in 1968, Lefebvre suggests that “the great event of the last few years is that the effects of industrialisation on a superficially modified capitalist society of production and property have produced their results: a programmed everyday life in its appropriate urban setting . Such a process was favoured by the disintegration of the traditional town and the expansion of urbanism” (EL, 65). What this has produced, and therefore what must be examined, is an urban environment. Lefebvre suggests that this expression is better than “technological environment”, “since technology only produces an ‘environment’ in the city and by the city; outside the city technology produces isolated objects: a rocket, a radar station” (EL, 50). We may wish to question this assumption, as it would seem to be self-evident that the advances of technology in, for example, farming, have sculpted the “rural” as much as parallel developments have the urban. It should also not be forgotten that the environment is, of course, directly affected by state planning. This is another development of relatively recent times. As Lefebvre remarks, the state “is actively involved in housing construction, city planning, urbanisation. ‘Urbanism’ is part of both ideology and the would-be rational practice of the state” (E, 46).

This understanding of the shift from the rural to the urban – both in historical terms, and in his own work – enables Lefebvre to escape the accusations that suggest that there is a strong urban bias in much continental theory. Margaret Fitzsimmons castigates Marx and Weber for this, and sees the bias continue in the more recent work of Althusser, Foucault, Derrida and Lacan. Only Lefebvre escapes her damning condemnation of “their obsession with la vie urbaine , la vie parisienne , as the only civilised manifestation of la vie quotidienne ”.[5] Lefebvre’s understanding of the rural and urban together rather than in isolation is one of his key points: the over-emphasis on the urban is one of his criticisms of the Situationists (IM, 345-6); whilst the neglect of the problems of urbanisation is seen as a fault with Marcuse (E, 33).

Important readings of urban and rural landscapes are found throughout his work. In the Critique of Everyday Life there is a chapter entitled “Notes Written One Sunday in the French Countryside”, where Lefebvre takes an ordinary village in France as an example. One of the clearest parts of Lefebvre’s discussion is of the village church (CEL, 213ff), a reading which has distinct parallels with Nietzsche’s remarks on this subject. [6] Lefebvre clearly identifies the power of the symbols in the church – “for me this space can never be just like any other space” (CEL, 214) – and it is evident, even in this initial sketch, that he has appropriated the Nietzschean notion of power in space: “Castles, palaces, cathedrals, fortresses, all speak in their various ways of the greatness and the strength of the people who built them and against whom they were built” (CEL, 232). [7] The reading of space is similarly evident in a work written fifteen years later, in which he contrasts the village where he lives with a new town a few kilometres away. For Lefebvre, the town is very much a planned, rather than a natural, development (IM, 116ff). Lefebvre’s notion of everyday life suggests that capitalism, which has always organised the working life, has greatly expanded its control over the private life, over leisure. This is often through an organisation of space.

The new town was the typical significant phenomenon in which and on which this organisation could be read because it was there that it was written. What, apart from such features as the negation of traditional towns, segregation and intense police supervision, was inscribed in this social text to be deciphered by those who knew the code, what was projected on this screen? Everyday life – organised, neatly subdivided and programmed to fit a controlled, exact time-table... (EL, 59)

The Production of Space

In recent years there has been a noticeable shift from questions of temporality to those of spatiality. As Frederic Jameson asks, “why should landscape be any less dramatic than the event?” [8] In his work, Lefebvre suggests that just as everyday life has been colonised by capitalism, so too has its location – social space. [9] There is therefore work to be done on an understanding of space and how it is socially constructed and used. This is especially necessary given the shift to the importance of space in the modern age. Lefebvre suggests that in the past there were shortages of bread, and never a shortage of space, but that now corn is plentiful (at least in the developed world), whilst space is in short supply: “The overcrowding of highly industrialised countries is especially pronounced in the larger towns and cities” (EL, 52; RPS, 33). Social space is allocated according to class, and social planning reproduces the class structure. This is either on the basis of too much space for the rich and too little for the poor, or because of uneven development in the quality of places, or indeed both. Like all economies, the political economy of space is based on the idea of scarcity. [10] “Today more than ever, the class struggle is inscribed in space” (PS, 55).

There are also crucial issues around the idea of marginalisation or regionalisation. This is one of Lefebvre’s points in his call for the right to the city [ ville]. Segregation and discrimination should not remove people from the urban (WC, 195; SC, 17ff). Nor is space and the politics of space confined to the city. The relationship of centre and periphery is similarly evidenced elsewhere: in under-developed countries, in the rural, in the marginal regions of capitalist countries – Sicily, Scotland, the Basque area – in the suburbs and the ghettos, and in the social and political peripheries – the areas of the mad, homosexuals, women, youth, and drug takers. Several of these liminal groups have been analysed by Foucault, yet Lefebvre criticises his approach as “a lot of pin-prick operations which are separated from each other in time and space. It neglects the centres and centrality; it neglects the global” (SC, 116). [11] The local studies are essential, but we must see the whole picture. As Harvey has phrased it, “the whole history of territorial organisation, colonialism and imperialism, of uneven development, of urban and rural contradictions, as well as of geopolitical conflict testifies to the importance of such struggles within the history of capitalism”. [12] One of the reasons why capitalism has survived into the twentieth century is because of its flexibility in constructing and reconstructing the relations of space and the global space economy, in constituting the world market (SC, 21, 106). Lefebvre argues that space is the ultimate locus and medium of struggle, and is therefore a crucial political issue: “There is a politics of space because space is political” (RPS, 33).

As many of the commentators on Lefebvre have pointed out, Marxism is not particularly noted for its attendance to questions of space. Edward Soja attributes to Marx the view that history was important, and geography an “unnecessary complication”, [13] and Richard Peet suggests that “Marxism has little to say about relations with nature and sees events occurring on top of a pin rather than in space”. [14] The fairness of these claims is moot, though it is certainly true that the analyses never claim centre stage. It should also be noted that some Marxists who have signally failed to make analyses have made extensive use of spatial metaphors. A classic instance is Althusser, who uses such terms as field, terrain, space, site, situation, position, but seems to rely on language alone. [15] Whilst the use of spatial language for metaphor should not be knocked, an understanding of why this language is so useful should perhaps be appended. Much spatial language deals with contestation, struggle and productivity. This is precisely because it mirrors the actual uses and experiences of space. For example, where the space of town planners is seen as a scientific object, as pure and apolitical, Lefebvre argues that has been shaped and moulded by historical and natural elements, through a political process (RPS, 30). Space is a social and political product. This is clearly why Lefebvre’s main work on space is entitled The Production of Space . There are two terms in this title, both need to be critically examined.

Though Lefebvre has been accused of prioritising the early Marx’s notion of alienation over the later idea of production, it is clear in the work on space (if not elsewhere) that the mode of production is essential to the analysis. The human effects, whilst considered forcefully, do not dominate. Lefebvre unequivocally states that “ (social) space is a (social) product ” (PS, 26). This means that “every society – and hence every mode of production with all its subvariants... produces a space, its own space” (PS, 31). The crudities of the 1859 Preface regarding base and superstructure are not replicated, but he does recognise the causal efficacy of the forces and relations of production. He notes that there is a not a strict correspondence, and that sometimes spaces are produced by the contradictions in the mode of production. The example he gives is of the medieval town, which was produced out of feudalism, but eventually emerged victorious. [16] Lefebvre is anxious to point out that “a social space is not a socialised space” (PS, 190), it did not exist beforehand as a non-social space, as a natural space: it is produced by social forces.

An analysis of production in the modern world shows that “we have passed from the production of things in space to the production of space itself ” (S, 285). One of the key factors is technology. Scott Kirsch has pointed out that this is sometimes neglected in an analysis of Lefebvre’s work: “In addition to its significance to production in space, technology also plays a mediating role in the production of space”. Kirsch also cautions against “resorting to the rather cartoonish shrinking world metaphor”, which risks losing sight of the complex relations between capital, technology, and space. Space is not “shrinking”, but must rather be perpetually recast. [17] We might wish to modify and rephrase this last sentence. Space is not shrinking, it is being perpetually recast, but we perceive it to be shrinking.

This highlights an important point. Lefebvre not only corrected the modernist imbalance of time over space, but also, contra Kant, emphasised the historicality of their experience. No longer the Kantian empty formal containers, no longer categories of experience, time and space could be experienced as such , and their experience was directly related to the historical conditions they were experienced within. [18] For Lefebvre, of course, these historical conditions are directly linked to the mode of production: hence the production of space. Lefebvre therefore wished to make two main moves in his work. First to put space up with and alongside time in considerations of social theory, and in doing so correct the vacuity of the Kantian experiential containers. Spatiality is as important as, but must not obscure considerations of, temporality and history: “space and time thus appear and manifest themselves as different yet unseverable” (PS, 175). Secondly he wished to use this new critical understanding to examine the (modern) world in which he was writing. This is accomplished through an analysis of how space is produced, and how it is experienced. Space is produced in two ways, as a social formation (mode of production), and as a mental construction (conception).

What is meant by space? As Massey sensibly warns, “space” and “spatial” are regularly used as if their meaning was clear, but writers generally fail to realise that they have many different interpretations. She accepts that Lefebvre realised this (see PS, 3), and that he is fairly explicit in his understanding of these problematic terms. [19] The situation is further complicated when we consider that the French word espace has a wider range of meanings than “space”. In English some of the other meanings might be translated as area, zone, locus or territory. Lefebvre begins The Production of Space by suggesting that up until recently one view of space dominated. This was the view of space based on the division Descartes established between res cogitans and res extensia .[20] Space was formulated on the basis of extension, thought of in terms of co-ordinates, lines and planes, as Euclidean geometry. Kant further complicated the picture by conceiving of space and time as a priori absolute categories, structuring all experience. We have already seen how Lefebvre’s emphasis on the production of space historicises this experience; the critique of Cartesian formulations still needs to be achieved.

As early as 1939, Lefebvre had described geometric space as abstractive, and had likened it to clock time in its abstraction of the concrete (DM, 122, 133). This is clearly drawing on the critique of geometric space in Heidegger’s Being and Time and later works. Just as we experience the hammer as a hammer only when there is a problem with it, we encounter space geometrically only when we pause to think about it, when we conceptualise it. [21] Our mode of reaction to space is not geometric, only our mode of abstraction is. There is an opposition established between our conception of space – abstract, mental and geometric – and our perception of space – concrete, material and physical. The latter takes as its initial point of departure the body, which Lefebvre sees as the site of resistance within the discourse of Power in space (SC, 89). Abstract, decorporalised space is, he suggests, still another aspect of alienation.

In order to make progress in understanding space, we need to grasp the concrete and the abstract together. As was argued in Dialectical Materialism , if only one is grasped and turned into an absolute, a partial truth becomes an error: “By rejecting a part of the content it gives sanction to and aggravates the dispersion of the elements of the real” (DM, 167). Just as Lefebvre described the state as a “realised abstraction” (CEL, 209), space too is a realised (in both senses of the word) abstraction. Here there is an obvious use of idealism and materialism together. Space is a mental and material construct. This provides us with a third term between the poles of conception and perception, the notion of the lived. Lefebvre argues that human space and human time lie half in nature, and half in abstraction. His example of time is instructive: “It is obvious... that the human rhythms (biological, psychological and social time-scales – the time-scale of our own organism and that of the clock) determine the way in which we perceive and conceive of the world and even the laws we discover in it” (PS, 142). Socially lived space and time, socially produced, depend on physical and mental constructs.

This gives us a conceptual triad: spatial practice; representations of space; and spaces of representation (PS, 33; translation modified). Space is viewed in three ways, as perceived, conceived and lived: l’espace perçu, conçu, vécu . This Lefebvrian schema sees a unity between physical, mental and social space:

spatial practice
l’espace perçu
representations of space
l’espace conçu
spaces of representation
l’espace vécu
materialism and idealism

The first of these takes space as physical form, real space, space that is generated and used. The second is the space of savoir (knowledge) and logic, of maps, mathematics, of space as the instrumental space of social engineers and urban planners. Space as a mental construct, imagined space. The third sees space as produced and modified over time and through its use, spaces invested with symbolism and meaning, the space of connaissance (less formal or more local forms of knowledge), space as real-and-imagined.

This notion of lived space is one of Lefebvre’s central contributions, though it predates his use. Heidegger’s influence can be seen in many places in The Production of Space , and in other works of the same period. What Lefebvre seems to do is to bring together much of Heidegger’s work with the work of Marx. Through his work on Nietzsche and Hölderlin, Heidegger incorporated an understanding of the poetic into his work, crucially in the spatial notion of poetic dwelling, a notion of lived experience of everyday life .[22] As Harvey has noted, in this view of lived space, Cartesian-Kantian notions of space are not wrong – they are perfectly reasonable approximations – but they are approximations. [23] To repeat, they are approximations that begin at the level of abstraction, crucially one level away from the initial level of lived reaction.

The construction, or production, of spaces therefore owes as much to the conceptual realms as to material activities. An example of a space that incorporates both mental and material constructs is a cloister, where “a gestural space has succeeded in mooring a mental space – a space of contemplation and theological abstraction – to the earth, thus allowing it to express itself symbolically and to become part of a practice” (PS, 217). Another example shows how constructs are experienced in a modern city. A park is conceived, designed and produced through labour, technology and institutions, but the meaning of the space, and the space itself, is adapted and transformed as it is perceived and lived by social actors and groups. [24] But this notion of space as lived is on its own not sufficient. Lefebvre’s criticism of Heidegger is that he failed to understand the notion of production in sufficient detail. Heidegger’s conception of production is seen as “restricted and restrictive”, as he envisages it as a “causing-to-appear, a process of emergence which brings a thing forth as a thing now present amidst other already-present things” (PS, 112). What is involved, therefore, is a social and political production of space.

How then should an analysis of space proceed? Just as the social is historically shaped, so to is it spatially shaped. Equally the spatial is historically and socially configured. The three elements of the social, spatial and temporal shape and are shaped by each other. “Social relations, which are concrete abstractions, have no real existence save in and through space. Their underpinning is spatial ” (PS, 404), and, we should add, historical. Searching for a name for this new approach, Lefebvre toys with spatio-analysis or spatiology, but accepts there is a problem with these, as we need an analysis of the production of space (PS, 404). Being a Marxist, Lefebvre naturally utilises historical materialism. David Caute has given Lefebvre credit for integrating sociology and history within the perspective of historical materialism. [25] Given the work that Lefebvre produced after the publication of Caute’s book, we may feel tempted to add “spatiology” as the third term. Indeed, in 1989 Lefebvre suggested to his interviewers that courses in history and sociology which leave aside urban (spatial) questions seem ludicrous, in that they lack their very substance (WC, 215).

Critical Reception: Towards a History of Space or a Spatial History?

I have argued that Lefebvre makes two main moves in his work: an assertion of the importance of space in tandem with that of time; and an analysis of the spaces of the modern age. Whilst in Lefebvre’s subtle and nuanced work this distinction is clear and useful, in the hands of less adroit writers this all too often descends into a heavy-handed examination of the postmodernisation of, for example (though it is depressingly regularly the only example), the Los Angeles cityscape. [26] In this brief appreciation of the critical appropriation of Lefebvre, only the first of these two moves – the methodological one – will be examined.

One of the first glimpses of Lefebvre’s work in the English speaking world was through the work of Manuel Castells. Castells was influenced by the anti-Hegelian/Althusserian strand of Marxism, and was therefore critical of Lefebvre, especially on the question of space. It has been pointed out that he mainly formulated his view before Lefebvre became explicit on this subject, and that he neglected Lefebvre’s work on everyday life, where the ideas were already apparent. [27] Lefebvre’s work was initially read by Castells as a kind of spatial fetishism. It was felt that the prioritising of space was injurious to historical materialism, which of course marginalised space, and privileged time and history. It has been convincingly argued that this is a misreading of what Lefebvre is doing. [28] Lefebvre may have inhabited a liminal position within Western Marxism and historical materialism, but was still trying to further an explicitly Marxist analysis. Given the imbalance previously found within historical materialism, some over-prioritisation of space – in order to redress the balance – was perhaps to be expected. Had space not been thrust to the fore it would probably have been ignored.

This is one of the claims of Edward Soja, who champions Lefebvre as the “original and foremost historical and geographical materialist”. [29] Soja deserves due credit for promoting Lefebvre’s work in the English speaking world, and his Postmodern Geographies has been rightly hailed as one of the most challenging and stimulating books ever written on the social use of space. The major problem with Soja’s work is that he is so intent on focusing on the postmodern and on Los Angeles that he develops a programme from the work of Lefebvre and others for precisely this intent, rather than sketching a framework approach that could be applied to other times and places. Whilst Soja claims that criticisms such as “what about Huddersfield?” miss the point, in that his conceptual tools can be used in other areas, in his own work he continually focuses on the one place, with only a cursory nod toward its history. [30] This blunts the critical edge of his aim: the reassertion of space in critical social theory.

The reassertion of space in critical social theory – and in critical political praxis – will depend upon a continued deconstruction of a still occlusive historicism and many additional voyages of exploration into the heterotopias of contemporary postmodern geographies. [31]

Through this reassertion Soja hopes to spatialise history, and put time “in its place”, but he seems largely unaware that Lefebvre’s work is a historicism of sorts. [32] This is a key issue: does Lefebvre spatialise history, historicise space, or simply spatialise sociology? Whilst I believe that Lefebvre, working with three continually relating terms, was attempting to do all these and more, it can appear that he is writing a history of space , and not a spatial history (PS, 46, 110, 122). [33] Many of his commentators seem to have followed these leads in historicising space without due attendance to the converse. The crucial point seems to be a radicalising of the notion of history so that it becomes spatialised. With little of Lefebvre’s work on history and time available in English this problem will not easily go away. There is a danger of crowning space at the expense of an impoverished historical understanding; similarly I do not believe that simply adding a second adjective to the phrase “historical materialism” is adequate. In tandem with Lefebvre, we may wish to draw on the work of Michel Foucault, who, utilising Nietzsche and Heidegger, develops an alternative approach to questions of time and space, that, crucially, is temporally and spatially aware right from the beginning . Though Soja does look at Foucault’s work, he fails to address many of his more important insights. What Foucault does so successfully is to spatialise historical studies in such a way as to show how space is important in a number of ages, though naturally in different ways. [34]

It would be harsh, but not perhaps unfair, to suggest that Lefebvre’s work has suffered as a result of being read in English by certain types of scholars. Just as the theoretical underpinnings of Foucault have been neglected by cultural critics eager to get their hands on his toolkit, so too has Lefebvre been poorly served by geographers and urbanists who only look to Marx for Lefebvre’s philosophical background. Lefebvre only makes sense if the arguments of Nietzsche and Heidegger are understood along with those of Marx. His Marxism was open to many possibilities, as he saw Marx’s thinking as “a nucleus, an effervescent seed, the ferment of a conception of the world that develops without being able to avoid confrontation with entirely different works” (LCP, 76). [35] Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger can be used to help us understand the modern world. The understanding works by retaining some of Marx’s concepts but also adding new ones: “the everyday, the urban, social time and space” (LCP, 77). A residual Hegelian idealism, Heidegger’s understanding of the everyday and experiencing space, Nietzsche’s comments on the will to power and buildings, and “the emphasis on the body, sexuality, violence and the tragic, and the production of differential space and plural times” [36] are all found in Lefebvre’s work. Marxist scholars have struggled to map Lefebvre’s intellectual heritage for precisely these reasons, spatialists often fail to grasp his reworking of Marxism.

In his own words, Lefebvre’s work provides us with an “orientation” to questions of space:

I speak of an orientation advisedly. We are concerned with nothing more and nothing less than that. We are concerned with what might be called a ‘sense’: an organ that perceives, a direction that may be conceived, and a directly lived movement progressing towards the horizon. And we are concerned with nothing that even remotely resembles a system (PS, 423).

Abbreviations to works by Henri Lefebvre

CEL Critique of Everyday Life , London: Verso, 1991.
DM Dialectical Materialism , London: Jonathan Cape, 1968.
E The Explosion: Marxism and the French Upheaval , New York: Modern Reader, 1969.
EL Everyday Life in the Modern World , Harmondsworth: Allen Lane, 1971.
IM Introduction to Modernity: Twelve Preludes , London: Verso, 1995.
PS The Production of Space , Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
RPS “Reflections on the Politics of Space”, in Antipode, Vol 8, No 2, May 1976.
S “Space: Social Product and Use Value”, in J.W. Freiburg (eds.), Critical Sociology: European Perspectives , New York: Irvington Publishers, 1979.
SC The Survival of Capitalism , London: Allison & Busby, 1976.
LCP “Toward a Leftist Cultural Politics: Remarks Occasioned by the Centenary of Marx’s Death”, in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture , London: Macmillan, 1988.
WC Writings on Cities , Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.


[1] Contact e-mail:
[2] A key to the abbreviations for Lefebvre’s works will be found at the end of this paper.
[3] Lefebvre’s important considerations of Marxism include Le Marxisme , Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1948, and Sociologie de Marx , Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1966. For an excellent biography of Lefebvre, see Rémi Hess, Henri Lefebvre et l’aventure du siècle , Paris: A.M. Métailié, 1988. On his relationship with Marxism and contemporary thought see, particularly, Michael Kelly, Modern French Marxism , Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982; Alfred Schmidt, “Henri Lefèbvre and Contemporary Interpretations of Marx”, in Dick Howard & Karl E. Klare, The Unknown Dimension: European Marxism since Lenin , New York, 1972; Mark Poster, Existential Marxism in Postwar France: From Sartre to Althusser , Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975; Edith Kurzweil, The Age of Structuralism: Lévi Strauss to Foucault , New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. On everyday life, see Alice Kaplan & Kristin Ross, Everyday Life: Yale French Studies , No 73, Fall 1987; A. Hirsch, The French New Left , Boston, MA: South End Press, 1981. Heidegger’s discussion of Alltäglichkeit is found in Sein und Zeit , Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 111967.
[4] Alice Kaplan & Kristin Ross, “Introduction” to Everyday Life: Yale French Studies , p3.
[5] See Margaret Fitzsimmons, “The Matter of Nature”, in Trevor Barnes & Derek Gregory (eds.), Reading Human Geography: The Politics and Poetics of Inquiry , London: Arnold, 1997, especially p188. Lefebvre’s fundamental text on this shift is Du rural à l’urbain , Paris: Anthropos, 1970.
[6] See, for example, Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprache Zarathustra , Part II, §4; Menschliches Allzumenschliches §130. On power in space more generally, see Götzendämmerung Part 9, §11; all in Samtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe , edited by Giorgio Colli & Mazzino Montinari, Berlin and München, W. de Gruyter and Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Fifteen Volumes, 1980.
[7] For a later and more explicit formulation see SC, 86-8: “Constructed space – a transparency of metal and glass – tells aloud of the will to power and all its trickery. It is hardly necessary to add that the ‘habitat’ too shares in this spatial distribution of domination” (SC, 88).
[8] Frederic Jameson: Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism , London: Verso, 1991, p364.
[9] Kristin Ross, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune , Houndmills: Macmillan, 1988, pp8-9, goes so far as to suggest that social space is a synonym of everyday life – that everyday life is primarily (though not entirely) a spatial concept.
[10] On this, and other aspects of Lefebvre and space, see Mario Rui Martins, “The Theory of Social Space in the Work of Henri Lefebvre”, in Ray Forrest, Jeff Henderson & Peter Williams (eds.), Urban Political Economy and Social Theory: Critical Essays in Urban Studies , Aldershot: Gower, 1982.
[11] This theme is prevalent throughout Foucault’s work, though see particularly Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique , Paris: Gallimard, 1976, and Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison , Paris: Gallimard, 1975.
[12] David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity , Oxford: Blackwell, 1989, p237.
[13] Quoted (though without reference) by Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies , London: Verso, 1989, p32.
[14] Richard Peet, Global Capitalism: Theories of Societal Development , London & New York: Routledge, 1991, pp178-9. Lefebvre’s view is that “although space is not analysed in Capital, certain concepts, such as exchange value and use value, today apply to space” (S, 292).
[15] See especially Louis Althusser & Étienne Balibar, Reading Capital , London: NLB, 1970, pp26-8. For a discussion of Althusser in this context, see Neil Smith & Cindy Katz, “Grounding Metaphor: Towards a Spatialised Politics”, in Michael Keith & Steve Pile (eds.), Place and the Politics of Identity , London: Routledge, 1993.
[16] “An Interview with Henri Lefebvre”, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space , Vol 5, 1987, p31.
[17] Scott Kirsch, “The Incredible Shrinking World? Technology and the Production of Space”, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space , Vol 13, 1995, pp533, 544. The critique of the shrinking world metaphor is expressly directed at David Harvey’s work. Kirsch suggests that the metaphorical space of the shrinking world takes material space out of geography, and is therefore akin to a fetishism of space. It is suggested that Lefebvre’s space, a concrete abstraction, cannot be divorced from its materiality ..
[18] For the view Lefebvre is arguing against, see Immanuel Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft , Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1956, especially the chapter on the Transcendental Aesthetic, or the Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik , in Immanuel Kants Werke , edited by Ernst Cassirer, Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1922, Vol IV.
[19] Doreen Massey, “Politics and Space/Time”, New Left Review , No 192, Nov/Dec 1992, p66.
[20] René Descartes, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia in Œuvres Philosophiques: Tome II (1638-1642) , Paris: Garnier Frères, 1967.
[21] Heidegger, Sein und Zeit , pp109, 361-2; Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie, Gesamtausgabe Band 24 , Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1975, pp231ff.
[22] See Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, Pfullingen: Günther Neske, Zwei bande, 1961; Hölderlins Hymne ‘Der Ister’, Gesamtausgabe Band 53 , Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1984; Vorträge und Aufsätze , Pfullingen: Günther Neske, 41978. For a commentary, see Stuart Elden, “Heidegger’s Hölderlin and the Importance of Place”, in Journal for the British Society of Phenomenology , forthcoming.
[23] David Harvey, Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference , Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, p267.
[24] Kirsch, “The Incredible Shrinking World?”, p548.
[25] David Caute, Communism and the French Intellectuals 1914-1960 , London: Andre Deutsch, 1964, p298.
[26] I have in mind particularly Edward Soja’s Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places , Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, which I have critically reviewed in “What about Huddersfield?”, Radical Philosophy , No 84, July/August 1997.
[27] See Manuel Castells, The Urban Question , London: Edward Arnold, 1977. For a critical discussion of Castells’ work see Peter Newman, “Urban Political Economy and Planning Theory”, in Forrest, Henderson & Williams (eds.), Urban Political Economy and Social Theory , and Peter Saunders, Social Theory and the Urban Question , London: Hutchinson, 2nd Edition, 1986. It should be noted that Castells changed his mind about and softened his attitude towards Lefebvre in later works. Also important is David Harvey’s work Social Justice and the City , Oxford: Blackwell, 1973.
[28] Kristin Ross, The Emergence of Social Space , p9; Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies , pp69-70, 76ff.
[29] Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies , p42.
[30] Soja discussed these criticisms in a paper entitled “Postmodern Spaces”, given at the July 1995 Signs of the Times conference Postmodern Times, City University, London.
[31] Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies , p248.
[32] Lynn Stewart, “Bodies, Visions and Spatial Politics: a Review Essay of Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space ”, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space , Vol 13, 1995, p617.
[33] An important exception is The Explosion , a short text in which he looks at the events of May 1968: according special status to “urban phenomena”. It should be noted that Lefebvre’s criticism of structuralism with regard to space is that it does not accord due status to the historical (see SC, 65-6)
[34] It is telling that Soja and others have made so much use of Foucault’s 1967 lecture “Des Espaces Autres” in Dits et écrits , Paris: Gallimard, 1994, Four Volumes, Vol IV, which is Foucault’s most explicit demonstration of the history of space, rather than giving due attendance to the spatial histories throughout his work.
[35] On this, and also as a useful summary of some of his ideas, see the discussion between Lefebvre and Leskek Kolakowski, “Evolution or Revolution”, in Fons Elders (ed.), Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind , London: Souvenir Press, 1974.
[36] Eleonore Kofman & Elizabeth Lebas, “Lost in Transposition – Time, Space and the City”, Introduction to WC, p5.