DOI: 10.19830/j.upi.2021.091
A Brief Discussion on the Dialectic and Triple Senses Intrinsic to “the Production of Space”

Liu Huaiyu, Lu Bao

Keywords: The Production of Space; Historical Materialism; Critique of Political Economy; Cultural Study; Dialectical Utopia


How to understand the terminology “the production of space” is central to Lefebvre’s work The Production of Space. Firstly, Lefebvre reveals a “spatial” connotation in production and a “productive” one in space, that is to say, why production has spatiality and space is productive, and why space is the production of social space. This is because of the intrinsic spatiality in production and the intrinsic productivity in space. Secondly, Lefebvre understands “the production of space” in triple senses. The first is in the sense of historical materialism, which means every mode of social production has its matching socio-spatial form, that is, every society must produce its own social space. Thus, there is a theory of the history of space. The second is in the sense of the critique of political economy. While human societies evolve into the capitalist society, the mode of social production converts from “the production of things in space” into “the production of space itself”, in other words, the abstract production of space becomes dominated historical force. The first two understandings are widely known, however, the third sense is relatively ignored, namely the sense of visions of future society, artistic creation, and architectural design. The prospect of human society tends from homogeneity, singleness, hierarchy, and fragmentationdetermined by the capitalist abstract production of space towards various-possibility, multi-scale, and differential production of space based on body experience, artistic creation, and urban revolution. The most serious misunderstanding of Lefebvre’s “the production of space” is no more than to treat it as urbanist practices under capitalist modernity. To understand the terminology moves to and fro between the competing modes of the critique of political economy and cultural study, and consists in a vulgarized understanding resulting from misunderstanding the mode of material production in traditional historical materialism.


Brief Info of Author(s):

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