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Henri Lefebvre: Introduction

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1 Henri Lefebvre: Introduction
Rob Shields

2 Henri Lefebvre Introduction and Overview The City and Social Space
Critique of Everyday Life Modernity and Globalization

3 Map of France

4 Influences -Surrealism -Marxism -Existentialism -The Situationists Social Theory and Contributions -Everyday Life -Mystification of Consciousness -Alienation -‘Moments’ of Enlightenment -Romanticism, Utopianism -Dialectical Materialism -Retrojective method and Existentialism -Revolutionary Festival and libidinal economies of the city -The status of the urban -The state and the production of space -Three part dialectic Key Advances and Controversies -Areas of existence not covered by philosophy of being -spatialization -space and social relations -metaphilosophy and action -dialectic and alterity


6 Legacies Castells The Urban Question (critic of Lefebvre)
David Harvey Social Justice and the City Frederic Jameson ‘Postmodernism or the Culture of Late Capitalism’ Edward Soja Third Space and other texts Rob Shields Places on the Margin

7 The City and Social Space

8 Lefebvre’s 4 books on the City
Droit à la ville (1968), Pensée Marxiste et la ville (1972), La révolution urbaine (1970), Du rurale à l'urbain (1970) best English source: Writings on Cities and translations in Antipode and Society and Space

9 The suburban single family villa (‘pavillion’):
-nostalgic (promises but does not provide ‘a place of Being’ (cf. Heidegger) -ideological (the family as a unit of social production and reproduction) -serves economic speculation Space is nothing but the inscription of time in the world, spaces are the realisations, inscriptions in the simultaneity of the external world of a series of times, the rhythms or the city, the rhythms of the urban population...the city will only be retought and reconstructed on its current ruins when we have properly understood that the city is the deployment of time.... of those who are its inhabitants (1967e:10)

10 According to Lefebvre, space can only be grasped dialectically because it is a concrete abstraction - one of Marx's categories, such as exchange value, which are simultaneously a material, externalised realisation of human labour and the condensation of social relations of production. The concrete abstraction is simultaneously a medium of social actions, because it structures them, and a product of those actions (Gottdiener 1985:128).

11 Marxist Analysis of the City
A dialectical analysis Relation between development of the industrial 'base' of capitalism and the elaboration of urbanised society. 'truth' of the capitalist city morphology is industrialisation, and vice versa. transformation of space-as-landscape into property-as-exchange value

12 Lefebvre is at the forefront of…
a new image of society as a city - and thus the beginning of a whole new thematics of inside and outside, of inclusion in, and exclusion from, a positively-valued modernity. Cities possess a centre and banlieues, with citizens, those on the interior, deciding who among the insiders should be expelled and whether or not to open their doors to those on the outside’ (Ross 1996:150). What exactly is the mode of existence of social relationships? ...The study of space offers an answer according to which he social relations of production have a social existence to the extent that they have a spatial existence; they project themselves into a space, becoming inscribed there, and in the process producing that space itself. Failing this, these relations would remain in the realm of ‘pure’ abstraction - that is to say, in the realm of representations and hence of ideology: the realm of verbalism, verbiage and empty words (Lefebvre 1991d:129).

13 2 Key Works on Space 1972 paper: Museum of Modern Art Symposium ‘Institutions of the Post-Industrial Society Production de l’espace (1974), De L’Etat (4 vols )

14 For Lefebvre, ‘space’ is split up across many disciplines, each of which is partial, and which make social space invisible as a result: It is a question of discovering or developing a unity of theory between fields which are given as being separate,...Which fields?...First, the physical, nature, the cosmos, - then the mental (which is comprised of logic and formal abstraction), - finally the social. In other words, this search concerns logico-epistemological space - the space of social practices, - that in which sensible phenomena are situated in, not excluding the imaginary, projects and projections, symbols, utopias (Lefebvre 1974a:19).

15 Trialectics of space All interact in social spatializations
1. Spatial Practice with all its contradictions in everyday life, space perceived (perçu) in the commonsensical mode - or better still, ignored one minute and over-fetishized the next. 2 Representations of Space (discourses on space); the discursive regimes of theories, spatial and planning professions and expert knowledges which conceive of space (l’espace conçu), and, 3. Spaces of Representation (Discourse of Space; ‘representational space’), the third term or ‘other’ in Lefebvre’s three-part dialectic. This is space as it might be, fully lived space (l’espace vecu) ‘moments’ of presence. Surrealist: shock people into a new conception of the spatialisation of social life. All interact in social spatializations

16 What is the spatial practice of the body
What is the spatial practice of the body? ‘Considered overall, social practice presupposes the use of the body: the use of the hands, members and sensory organs, and the gestures of work as of activity unrelated to work. This is the realm of the perceived (the practical basis for the perception of the outside world)’. ‘As for representations of the body, they derive from accumulated scientific knowledge, disseminated with an admixture of ideology.’ - from the first medical axioms of Hippocrates through anatomic studies by Renaissance artists such as Michaelangelo to theories of vaccine, antibodies and allergens in the environment. The body is also a ‘lived experience’ itself a space of representations, ‘The “heart” as lived is strangely different from the heart as thought and perceived.’ Here we are in the realm of desire and mythification. Right-handedness as a norm, the attachment of moral values to different parts of the body - from wrists, ankles, to genitalia, the lived is colonized as a space of representations against itself. …The attachment of hygienic values to still other parts of the body - lips, anus, fingers - is yet another chastisement which reconfigures the dialectical linkage of practical perception-conception-lived image. When we shudder with disgust at transgressions of hygiene taboos we directly experience the overriding power of this interconnection as involuntary trembling seizes us and our ‘skin crawls’.

17 L’espace - spatialization
Always in progress (a ‘doing’) But with structuring effects (already achieved) Multi-scaled Bodies fitted to a built environment Landscape and ‘nature’ created Physical but also conceptual and imagined Unlike Lefebvre: not periodicized, not systemic but a formation, not homogeneous but contested: Social Spaces are the object of struggles over their form, how they are represented and their cultural meaning.

18 Lefebvre synthesizes his work on the urban with his rural sociology, setting the city into a systematic social spatialization – a socially produced regime of spatiality and geography: Each network or sequence of links - and thus each space - serves exchange and use in specific ways. Each is produced - and serves a purpose; and each wears out or is consumed, sometimes unproductively, sometimes productively. There is a space of speech whose prerequisites, as we have seen, are the lips, the ears, the ability to articulate, masses of air, sounds, and so on. This is a space, however, for which such material preconditions are not an adequate definition: a space of actions and of inter-actions, of calling and of calling back and forth, of expressiveness and power, and already at this level - of latent violence and revolt; the space, then, of a discourse that does not coincide with any discourse on or in space. The space of speech envelops the space of bodies and develops by means of traces, of writings, of prescriptions and inscriptions (Lefebvre 1991d: 403).

19 History of Spatializations
Absolute Space - Nature Sacred Space - City states, despots and divine-kings, Egypt Historical Space - Political states, Greek city-states, Roman Empire, perspective Abstract Space - Capitalism, political-economic space of property, lots Contradictory Space - Contemporary Global capital versus localized meaning Differential Space - Future space re-valuing difference and lived experience.


21 Lefebvre’s Idealized natural space….
His schema begins with an originary and Edenic maternal space (the natural) to which he seems to want to return... Second, his framework depends upon a heterosexuality that is fixated in a number of rigid, gendered distinctions...equating the paternal with activity, movement, agency, force, history, while the maternal is passive, immobile, subject of force and history. ...Lefebvre’s version of heterosexuality turns on an active-passive binary. If activity [labour] is that which materially inscribes the body in history, and only those inscriptions which are coded masculine are considered, feminine bodies necessarily become invisible...‘feminized’ sociospatial practices and struggles are completely ignored.... structurally female agency is foreclosed, rendered unrecognizable and made theoretically impossible; practically such exclusion winds up rejecting everyday forms of non-masculinist agency (Blum and Nast 1996:577).

22 The classical cities of antiquity were ‘oeuvres’ (works)
-unity of use and symbolic value -sites of ritual -'stages' for the monumental 'boasts' of 'despotic' rulers. Capitalist cities convert what remains of the classical city-oeuvres into a commodified terrain for speculation -the city ceases to be the central social form and becomes inserted into a far larger capitalist, global network (Production de l’espace 1974) -the monumental and festive aspects are turned into urban museums: Venice or Florence…

23 Space is not merely economic, in which all the parts are interchangeable and have exchange value. Space is not merely a political instrument for homogenising all parts of society. On the contrary...Space remains a model, a perpetual prototype of use value resisting the generalisations of exchange value in the capitalist economy under the authority of a homogenising state. Space is a use value, [similar to]...time to which is is ultimately linked because time is our life, our fundamental use value (Lefebvre 1978b:291). Space deserves membership in the set of productive forces. Ownership of space certainly confers a position in the economic structure. Evenwhen a piece of space is contentless, its control may generate economic power, because it can be filled with something productive or because it may need to be traversed by producers (Cohen 1978:51).

24 Abstract Space: 1. Quantity vs. quality: The repression of quality which re-emerges as 'leisure': 'from the space of consumption to the consumption of space in leisure and leisure space, or: from everyday life to the extraordinary by way of the festival...from work to non-work' (1974a:409; compare 1991d:353). 2. Global vs. local: The contrast of a global spatial practice and system under multinational capitalism and the'myth' of the parcel, lot, and smallest commercial units of space which is the lived-reality for most. Abstract space is both of these at once without any possibility of synthesis. 3. Use value vs. exchange value: As in Marx's formulation, the use value of land is transformed into the homogenous exchange value of real estate. At the grand level of the spatialisation ‘oeuvres' are transformed into products: mere opportunities for enterprise. Where this is not possible, they are transformed into images of themselveseither through their literal reproduction (Disneyland reproduces fragments of various 'cities' and 'countries' providing living stereotypes) or through the operation of photography which transfers the landscape to countless tourist postcards (see Baudrillard 1983).

25 Critique of Everyday Life

26 ‘Everyday’ – Quotidien
Alltäglichkeit –banality Heidegger Lukàcs (c.f. ‘Reification’) La vie quotidien ‘Lifeworld’ – Schütz – communalized empathy Practical attitude – Husserl

27 Other Uses of ‘Everyday Life’
Goffman Presentation of self Agnes Heller rationalization Dorothy Smith Relations of ruling Bakhtin ‘prosaics’ Source: Gardiner Critiques of Everyday Life

28 ‘The Everyday’ -in-between -liminal -performative -synthetic
-processual -time-space

29 Critique of Everyday Life
4th form of alienation c.f. Reification - Lukàcs Nietzschean critique taken-for-granted, reveals failure of vecu Colonization >>Can’t just criticize ‘everyday life’ for its lack of political project

30 Spatialization Spatial in-betweenness spatialization of alienation
index & shadow ephemerality flow

31 Everyday Life and the City
loss of integral sense of dwelling (habiter, wohnen) critique of urban life lifestyle?

32 Method Lefebvre’s projective-retrojective method was, according to Lefebvre, implicit in Marx - notably The German Ideology - but it is Lefebvre who gives it the clarity and explicit status of a research method. It consists of three steps: (a) Descriptive observation informed by experience and general theory; (b) analytico-retrojective analysis comparing back historically and to the known origins of other cases, and, (c) historico-progressive study of the genesis of structures, reconstructing the projection of trends to provide an explanatory framework for the present.

33 Modernization and Globalization
Lefebvre and beyond...

34 Critique of Modernity Production de l’espace (1974)
Critique of modern modalities of thinking as well as of space and economics Critique of privileged position of time since Kant Kantian categories are empty formal containers, not experiences which ‘take place’ or have a substantial quality Typical of ‘abstract space’

35 3rd Moment of Abstract Space: Space and objects are relativized
3rd Moment of Abstract Space: Space and objects are relativized. Space, in se, cannot be seized, becoming unthinkable. Time, in se, is also relativized. Unity of time and space (time is grasped as spatial change, space in time(s)). Capitalism begins by producing things and investing in sites. The need to reproduce social relations modifies this. And, this is what makes it necessary to reproduce nature and master space in producing it (the political-economic space of capitalism) on a global scale through a reduction of time in order to halt the production of new social relations… "Production, at the limit, today, is no longer a matter of producing this or that, things or works [oeuvres] but of producing space." Merchandize will occupy the entire global space. Exchange value will impose the law of value on the entire planet. In a sense, the history of the world is nothing but that of merchandize. This hypothesis pushed to its extremes permits the discovery of obstacles and objections. At the limit, will the state produce its own space, the absolute political? Or can one see the disappearance in and through the global market of the nation-state and of its space? (Production de l’espace 3.13 p.253).

36 Lefebvre’s Critique of the State
Context: tied closely to the intellectual paradigm of Marxism as a political project to conquer the state. However, he attempts a critique of Left ‘Statism’ Bound to the political-economic conditions associated with the Fordist welfare state. Sources: Swingedouw, Brenner, Elden, Antipode 2001…

37 What the “Left”, … has been proposing for years is the same thing that the government has been proposing…. A higher rate of growth, fairer distribution… It has proposed no new concept of society, of the state. … the Left thus situates itself on the terrain of those against whom it is fighting. (Lefebvre De l’Etat Vol.2 p.126)

38 De L’Etat (4 vols ) Critique of the State as the foremost institution involved in ‘binding space’ into productive territories Situates earlier work on the urban, everyday life in an explicitly political context Lefebvre’s analyses of state spatiality have been neglected. Yet an analysis and critique of the modern state form was a key element of Lefebvre’s writings of the 1970s Does not provide a critique of the dismantling of ‘State Fordism’ in France or 70s economic crises.

39 Autogestion Self-management, ‘worker control’ or co-management (Castoriadis) critique of liberal pluralism of the Parti Socialiste Critique of State Mode of Production, technocratic surveillance and threat to civil society A political orientation, not an institutional framework: grass-roots, radical democratization

40 The Emergence of Counterspaces: Social space figures amongst the productive forces; appears as a privileged product sometimes consumed simply (tourism) sometimes productively (machines, cities) in as much as it is a productive framework. It serves as a political instrument allowing control of society and the means of production through its management. It supports the reproduction of relations of production and property. It is the practical equivalent of the ensemble of superstructural institutions and ideologies. It contains virtualities -- the work (oeuvre) and reappropration under the banner of art and above all in the exigencies of the body which deploys a space around itself and extends itself through it. Thus space itself resists the bureaucratic management of space and suggests the sources of a counter-space (Production de l’espace 5.22 pp.402-3).

41 Relevance in 2002: critique of neoliberalism as a productivist state form rescaling/reterritorialization/redirection of governance and citizenship (Brenner, Putnam) critique of Left/social-democratic productivism (Jameson, Pateman) the critique of changing state formations Preserves project of a dialectical utopianism

42 1. Rescaling Change in relevant scale of citizenship, of policy delivery the city, on one hand … and the global or regional (‘Europe’, OECD), on the other hand Lefebvre continually reminds us of the nested quality of spatialization from micro- to macro-level. Reflections of the overarching form are found in the smallest details of everyday life.

43 2. Reterritorialization
Globalization is not a just a matter of the ‘withering away of the state’ but a shift in spatialization – a new arrangement of territories The State appears to reassert itself, but does so in the form of new regional ‘blocs’ (eg. FTAA, EU) Function as an agent for commodification and productivity of territories supercedes regulatory, redistribution and accountability functions >> increased geographic inequality. Supremacy of cities and production clusters vs. peripheries

44 With the development of the modern modes of capitalist production, the extraction of surplus value becomes de-territorialized, notably with the development of a global financial circuit. Still the city continues in its old role of coordinating the flows of energies. The economy appears practically as a connexion of flux and networks whose rationality is monitored by institutions and programmed through the spatial framework where these institutions have their operational effects (Production de l’espace 5.20 p.401).

45 3. Reorientation Expectations of the powers of the nation change.
Importance of cities, neighbourhoods, global coalitions Neoliberal consensus

46 Globalization ‘le planetaire’ – global circuits of capital and of social movements Anticipates non-aligned movement NGO/civil society movements (Rio, Seattle) Cities and urban life are shared reference points Refusal of state politics, lack of presence of Fordist labour unions, political parties

47 6.10 There is a fundamental contradiction between globalization (the ability to manage space on a grand scale, thus homogenization) and parcelization (private property). Dispersion of various aspects of capitalist productions (Fordism) further robs space of its coherence. It is dominated by strategic designs of multi-nationals and superpowers. The micro-level of space remains the site of struggle where the objective is always and still the occupation of a space by the various modes of politics and war (Production de l’espace 6.10 p.422-3)

48 …tendencies to a "counter-space" (alternative spatial systems, arrangements, practices, norms)…with all their ambiguities and failures. Of these, the most striking is…The space of leisure, in particular the beach, is the ultimate "Contradictory Space" being both a zone where the body-subject is re-unified with the body-as-object and a site of the reproduction of labour and the relations of production. As such it indicates the points of possible rupture in the present system of contradictory, abstract, space (Production de l’espace 6.21 p.431-2)

49 Postmodernism = respatialization
Postmodernism – disruption of cognitive mapping (Jameson). New period (past the ‘post’): Much remains the same… Spatialisation of presence (parousia) and absence as near-far disengaged from exclusion and inclusion (inside-outside).

50 Presence and Absence Cultural oppositions sketched around the dualism of presence and absence = Proximate and Remote, Known and Unknown, Being and Non-Being Present and Past Material and Abstract Erodes modernist categories and forms such as the individual, the city and the nation-state. Unravels web of guiding “metaphors we live by”

51 Lefebvre’s triple dialectic
} Both... I Affirmation and II Negation } Percu Concu } IV “Synthesis” ___________________________________ } III Negation of the Negation } Vecu } (Otherness)

52 A continuing story…

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