You are on page 1of 23

Flexible Accumulation through Urbanization Reflections on "Post-Modernism" in the

American City
Author(s): David Harvey
Source: Perspecta, Vol. 26, Theater, Theatricality, and Architecture (1990), pp. 251-272
Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567167
Accessed: 22/09/2009 03:10

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless
you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you
may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at
http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress.

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed
page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the
scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that
promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

The MIT Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Perspecta.

http://www.jstor.org
FlexibleAccumulation
ThroughUrbanization
Reflectionson "Post-Modernism"in the AmericanCity

David Harvey

Proletarian is thecritique
revolution ofhuman
geographythroughwhichindividuals and
communitieshaveto createplacesandevents
suitablefortheirown appropriation, no longer
just of theirlabour,butof theirtotalhistory.
Guy Debord, Societyof theSpectacle.

Timesarehard,but (post)modem.
Adaptationof an Italiansaying.

25I

This paperwas originallypresentedat the symposiumDevelopingtheAmericanCity, Societyand


in theRegionalCitywhich was held at the YaleSchoolof Architecturein February,I987.
Architecture
Introduction
endofmodernist
Jencksdatesthesymbolic
Charles architecture
andthepassage
to the post-modemas 3:32p.m. onJuly I5th, I972, when the Pruitt-Igoehousing
development(a versionof Le Corbusier's "machineformodemliving")was
dynamitedasanunlivableenvironmentforthe low-incomepeopleit housed.
Shortlythereafter,PresidentNixon officiallydeclaredthe urbancrisisover.
Nineteenseventy-twois not a baddateforsymbolizingallkindsof othertransitions
in the politicaleconomyof advancedcapitalism.It is roughlysincethenthatthe
capitalistworld,shakenout of the suffocatingtorporof the stagflationthatbrought
the longpostwarboomto a wimperingend, hasbegunto evolvea seeminglynew
andquitedifferentregimeof capitalaccumulation.Setin motionduringthe severe
recessionof I973-5andfurtherconsolidated duringthe equallysavagedeflationof
I98I-2 (the "Reagan" recession),the new regimeis markedby a startlingflexibility
with respectto labourprocesses,labourmarkets,products,andpatternsof
consumption.2 It has,at the sametime, entrainedrapidshiftsin the patterningof
unevendevelopment,bothbetweensectorsandgeographical regions-a process
aidedby the rapidevolutionof entirelynew financialsystemsandmarkets.These
enhancedpowersof flexibilityandmobilityhavepermittedthe new regimeto be
imposedupona labourforcealreadyweakenedby two savageboutsof deflationthat
sawunemploymentriseto unprecedented post-warlevelsin allthe advanced
capitalistcountries(save,perhaps,Japan).Rapiddisplacements, forexample,from
the advancedcapitalistcountriesto the newly industrializing countries,orfrom
skilledmanufacturing to unskilledservicejobs, hammeredhomethe weaknessof
labourandits inabilityto resistsustainedlevelsof highunemployment,rapid
destructionandreconstruction of skills,andmodest(if any) increasesin the real
wage. Politicaleconomiccircumstances alsoundermined the powerof the stateto
protectthe socialwage, evenin thosecountrieswith governmentsseriously
commitedto defenseof the welfarestate. Althoughthe politicsof resistancemay
havevaried,austerityandfiscalretrenchment,sometimesaccompanied by the
resurgenceof a virulentneo-conservatism, havebecomewidespread in the advanced
capitalistworld.
aboutculturalandintellectuallifesinceI972 is how it, too, has
Whatis remarkable
beenradically inwaysthatappear
transformed thesepolitical-economic
to parallel
transformations. Consider,forexample,thepractices of"highmodernity ofthe
international in I972.Modernism
style"aspracticed hadbythenlostallsemblance
of socialcritique.TheprotopoliticalorUtopianprogram (thetransformationof all
sociallifebywayofthetransformation of space)hadfailedandmodernism had 252

I CharlesJencks,TheLanguage ofPost-Modern 4thed.(London:AcademyEditions,I984), p. 9.


Architecture,
2 SeeP.A. Armstrong,A.Glyn,andJ.Harrison, SinceWorld
Capitalism WarTwo(London:Fontana,I984);
M.A. Aglietta,A Theory
ofRegulation (London:NLB, I974); M. andC.Sabel,TheSecond
Piore
Divide(New York:BasicBooks,I984); A. ScottandM.Storper,
Industrial eds.,Production,
Work,
TheGeographical
Territory: Anatomy ofIndustrial (London:AllenandUnwin, I986); and
Capatalism
Harvey,"TheGeographicalandGeopoliticalConsequences FromFordistto Flexible
of the Transition
Accumulation(Presentedat the Conference
on America'sNew Economic Geography,Washington,
D. C., April 29-30, I987).
'o

~t

becomecloselylinkedto capitalaccumulation througha projectof Fordist


modernization characterizedbyrationality, andefficiency.3
functionality, By I972,
modernist architecturewasasstiflingandtorporous asthecorporate powerit
represented.Stagflationinarchitecturalpracticeparalleledthestagflation
of
capitalism(perhapsit wasnoaccident thatVenturi, ScottBrown,andIzenour
publishedLearningfrom LasVegas in I972).4 Criticsofmodernity hadbeenaround for
averylongtime(thinkofJaneJacobs's LifeandDeathofGreat American Cities,
publishedin I96I)andtherewasa sense,ofcourse,inwhichtherevolutionary
cultural
movement ofthe I96oswasfashioned asa critical
responseto rationality,
andefficiencyineverything.Butit tookthe I973 crisisto shakeupthe
functionality,
betweenartandsocietyto allowpost-modernism
relationship to becomeboth
acceptedandinstitutionalized.
"Post-modernism" is, however,a mostcontentiousterm. Mostagreethatit entails
somekindof reactionto "modernism." But sincethe meaningof thattermis a
muddle,the reactionsto it aredoublyso. Thereappears,however,to be somekind
of consensus"thatthe typicalpost-modernist artifactis playful,pluralist,self-
ironizingandeven schizoid;andthatit reactsto the austereautonomyof high
modernismby impudentlyembracingthe languageof commerceandthe
commodity."Furthermore, "itsstancetowardsculturaltraditionis one of irreverent
pastiche,andits contriveddepthlessness undermines allmetaphysical solemnities,
sometimesby a brutalaestheticsof squalorandshock."5But evenin a fieldlike
wherethe"artifact"
architecture, isclearlyinviewandwherewriterslikeJencks
havesoughtto definewhatpost-modernism isabout,themeaning anddefinition of
thetermstillremains incontention.6 Inotherfields,wherepost-modernism has
becomeintertwined withpost-structuralism, andthelike,matters
deconstruction,
havebecomeevenmoreobscure.7 Intheurbancontext,therefore, I shallsimply
characterize
post-modernism assignifyingabreakwiththeideathatplanning and
development shouldfocusonlarge-scale, austere
rational,
technologically and
efficient"international
functionally style"design,andthatvernacular traditions,
localhistory,andspecialized
spatialdesignsrangingfromfunctionsofintimacyto
grandspectacle shouldbeapproached withamuchgreater eclecticism of style.
Thiskindofpost-modernism, it seemsto me,seekssomekindof accommodation
withthemoreflexibleregimeof accumulation thathasemergedsinceI973. Ithas
soughtacreativeandactive,ratherthana passive,roleinthepromotionofnew
cultural andpractices
attitudes consistentwithflexibleaccumulation,
eventhough
someofitsdefenders,suchasFrampton, seeit ascontaining for
potentialities
aswellasconformity
resistance to capitalist Theinstitutionalization
imperatives.8
rests,therefore,uponthe creationof a
andhegemonyof "post-modernism"
distinctive"culturallogic"in late capitalism.9

3 F.Jameson,"The Politicsof Theory: IdeologicalPositionsin the Post modem Debate," New German
Critique33: pp. 53-65.
4 R. Venturi,D. Scott-Brown, andS. Izenour,Learningfrom
Las Vegas(Cambridge: MIT Press, I972).
5 T. Eagleton,"Awakeningfrom Modernity,."TimesLiterarySupplement
February20, I987.
6 Jencks, Post-Modern Architecture.

David Harvey
Oneotherelementto thepicturemustbeconsidered. Not onlyhavecapitalism and
itsassociatedculturalandideological
practices togetherundergone a seachange,but
our"discourses" (tousethecurrent buzz-word) havelikewiseshifted.The
deconstruction of stucturalist
interpretations,theabandonment oftheoryfor
empiricism inmuchof socialscience,thegeneral backingawayfromMarxism
(forbothpolitical andintellectual
reasons) andthesenseoffutilityintherealmof
realrepresentation (theimpenetrabilityof "theother"andthereduction ofall
meaning to a"text")makeit verydifficult to preserveanysenseofcontinuity to our
understanding of thattransformationthatsetinaround1972.Wetalkedaboutthe
worldina different way,usedadifferent language then,compared to now. Yethere,
too,I thinka casecanbemadethatthepolitical-economic transformationachieved
through a succession of economiccrisesandworkingclassdefeatshaveaffected
discoursesaswellascultural andideological practices.x?Thatsoundslike,andis, old-
fashioned Marxian argument. ButI cannothelpbutbeimpressed atthewayin
whichawholeworldofthoughtandcultural practice,ofeconomyandinstitutions,
ofpoliticsandwaysof relating, beganto crumble aswe watchedthedustexplode
upwards andthewallsof Pruitt-Igoe comecrashing down.

Accumulation
Flexible Through Urbanization
Anunderstanding I haveargued
of urbanization, elsewhere, forunder-
iscritical
standingthehistorical
geographyofcapitalism.? Ithaspartlybeenthroughshiftsin
theurbanprocessthatthenewsystemsofflexibleaccumulation havebeenso
implanted.
successfully Butalso,asvarious historiansoftheriseofmodernism have
pointedout,thereisanintimateconnection betweenaesthetic andculturalmove-
mentandthechanging natureoftheurbanexperience."2 It seemsreasonable,
intheurbanprocessasakeypointofintegration
to lookattransitions
therefore, of
movetowards
thepolitical-economic flexibleaccumulation andthecultural-
trendtowards
aesthetic post-modernism.
Urbanization has,likeeverything else,dramaticallychanged itsspotsintheUnited
StatessinceI972. Theglobaldeflation of I973-5 putincrediblepressureonthe
employment baseofmanyurbanregions.A combination of shrinking markets,
unemployment, constraints
rapidshiftsin spatial andtheglobaldivision of labour,
capitalflight,plantclosings,technologicalandfinancial
reorganization, layatthe

7 SeeA. Huyssen,"Mappingthe PostModern,"NewGerman 33: pp.5-52.


Critique
8 K.Frampton,"CriticalRegionalism:
Speculations in C.Johnson,ed.,
of Resistance."
on anArchitecture
TheCityin Conflict(London:Mansell,I985).
9 Jameson,"Post Modernism,or, The CulturalLogic of LateCapitalism,"New Left ReviewI46: pp. 53-92. 254
io SeeD. HarveyandA. Scott,"Practiceof HumanGeography, Theory,andSpecificity
in the Transition
fromFordism to flexibleAccumulation" ed Remodelling
in W. MacMillan, Geography (Oxford:Basil
Blackwell,forthcoming).
andthe Urban
of Capital(Oxford: BasilBlackwell, I985); idem, Conciousness
II Harvey,The Urbanization
(Oxford:BasilBlackwell,I985).
Experience
12M.Berman,All ThatIs SolidMeltsIntoAir (New York:SimonandSchuster,I982), M. Bradbury andJ.
McFarlane, Modernism
(Hammondsworth: Pelican,I976) T.J.Clark,ThePainting Life:Paris
ofModern
(New York:Knopf,I985) andD. Frisby,
in theArtofManetandhisFollowers Fragments
ofModernity
(Oxford: Polity Press, I986).
rootofthatpressure. Thegeographical wasnotonlyto otherregionsand
dispersal
phaseofurbandeconcentration
yet another
nations,it included ofpopulationsand
production beyondthesuburbsandintoruralandsmall-town
America inawaythat
almost seemed like the fulfillmentof Marx'spredictionof the "urbanizationof the
Fixedcapitalinvestments
countryside". andphysical
infrastructures
inexisting
locations
wereconsequently threatened
withmassivedevaluation,
thusundermining
thepropertytaxbaseandfiscalcapacityofmanyurbangovernments ata timeof
socialneed.Tothedegreethatfederal
increasing redistributions
alsobecameharder
to capture(thiswasthe importof Nixon'sdeclaration
in I973), so socialconsum-
ption was reduced,forcing more and more governments to a politicaleconomy of
retrenchmentand disciplinaryaction againstmunicipalemployees and the local real
wage. It was exactly in such a context that New YorkCity went into technical
bankruptcyin I975, presaginga wave of fiscaldistressand radicalrestructuringfor
many U. S. cities."3

Ruling class alliancesin urbanregionswere willy-nilly forced (no matterwhat their


composition) to adopt a much more competitive posture. Managerialism,so
characteristicof urbangovernancein the I96os, was replacedby entrepreneurialism
as the main motif of urban action.14 The rise of the "entrepreneurialcity" meant
increasedinter-urbancompetition acrossa numberof dimensions. I have elsewhere
arguedthat the competition can best be brokendown into four differentforms:
(a) competition for position in the internationaldivisionof labour; (b) competition
for position as centers of consumption; (c) competition for control and command
functions (financialand administrativepowers in particular);and (d) competition
for governmentalredistributions(which in the United States, as Markusenhas
shown,"5focusedheavily these last few years on militaryexpenditures).16 These four
options arenot mutuallyexclusive, and the uneven fortunesof urbanregionshave
dependedupon the mix and timing of strategiespursuedin relationto globalshifts.
It was in part through this heightened inter-urbancompetition that flexible accumu-
lationtooksuchfirmhold.However,theresulthasbeenrapidoscillations
inurban
fortunes ofunevengeographical
andinthepatterning development.17Houston
andDenver,bothboomtownsinthemid-I970s, weresuddenlycaughtshortinthe
collapseof oil prices after I981; SiliconValley,the high-tech wonder of new
andnewemployment
products hassuddenly
inthe I970S, lostitscompetitive
edge;

I3 to the UrbanPoliciesof theNew Right(BeverlyHills:


I. Szelenyi, ed., Citiesin Recession:CriticalResponses
Sage, 1984); P. Clavel, J. Forester, and W. Goldsmith, UrbanandRegionalPlanningin an Age of Austerity
(New York: Pergamon, I983); S. N.
Fainstain, Fainstain,R. Hill, D.Judd, and M. Smith, Restructuring
theCity ( New York: Longman, I986); andW. Tabb, TheLongDefault(New York: Monthly Review
Press, 1982).
I4 R. Hanson, ed., RethinkingUrbanPolicy: UrbanDevelpment in an AdvancedEconomy(Washington,D. C.:
National Academy of Sciences, I983) andJ.Bouinot, ed., L"ActionEconomique desGrandesVillesen France
et a l"Etranger
(Paris: Economica, I987).
Journalof Urbanand
s5A. Markusen,"Defense Spending: A SuccessfulIndustrialPolicy," International
Regional Researchio ( 986): pp. Io5-22.

of Capital(Oxford: BasilBlackwell, I985), chapter8.


I6 Harvey,The Urbanization

I7 N. Smith, UnevenDevelopment: of Space(Oxford: BasilBlackwell,1984).


Nature,Capital,andtheProduction

David Harvey
whileNew Yorkandthe once-jadedeconomiesof New Englandarerebounding
inthe i98osonthebasisofexpanding
vigorously command andcontrolfunctions
andevennew-found manufacturingstrength.Twoothermoregeneral
effectshave
thenfollowed.
First,inter-urbancompetition hasopenedspaceswithinwhichthenewandmore
flexiblelabourprocesses couldbemoreeasilyimplanted andhasopenedtheway
to muchmoreflexiblecurrents ofgeographical mobilitythanwasthecasebefore
I973. Concern forafavorable "businessclimate," forexample,haspushedurban
governments to allkindsofmeasures (fromwage-disciplining to publicinvestments)
inorderto attracteconomic development, butintheprocessthisconcernhas
lessened thecostof changeof locationto theenterprise. Muchofthevaunted
"public-privatepartnership" oftodayamounts to a subsidyforaffluentconsumers,
corporations,andpowerful command functionsto stayintownattheexpenseof
localcollectiveconsumption fortheworkingclassandtheimpoverished. Second,
urbangovernments havebeenforcedintoinnovation andinvestment to maketheir
citiesmoreattractive asconsumer andcultural centers.Suchinnovations andinvest-
ments(convention centers,sportsstadia,disney-worlds, down-townconsumer
paradises,etc.)havequicklybeenimitated elsewhere.Inter-urban competitionthus
hasgenerated leap-frogging urbaninnovations inlife-styles,
culturalforms,
products, and even and
political consumer based innovation, allof which have
activelypromoted thetransitionto flexibleaccumulation. Andherein,I shallargue,
liespartof thesecretofthepassage to post-modernity inurbanculture.
Thisconnectioncanbeseenintheradical oftheinterior
reorganization spacesofthe
contemporaryU. S. cityundertheimpulsions
ofinter-urban I shall
competition.
prefacetheaccount,however,withsomegeneralremarksontheclasscontentof
spatial inurbansettings.
practices
TheClassContentof Spatial inUrbanSettings
Practices
Spatialpracticesinanysocietyabound in subtleties
andcomplexities. Sincetheyare
notinnocentwithrespectto theaccumulation ofcapitalandthereproduction of
classrelationsundercapitalism,theyarea permanent arenaforsocialconflictand
struggle.Thosewhohavethepowerto command andproduce spacepossessavital
instrumentalityforthereproduction andenhancement oftheirownpower.Any
projectto transformsocietymust,therefore,graspthecomplexnettleofthetrans-
formation of spatial
practices.
I shalltryto capturesomeofthecomplexitythrough construction
of a"grid"
of
spatialpractices(Tablei). DownthelefthandsideI rangethreedimensions
identi- 256
fiedin Lefebvre"s
T7heProduction I8
of Space:

18H. Lefebvre,La Production


del'Espace in Englishas7heProduction
(Paris:Anthropos,I974),forthcoming
ofSpace(Oxford:BasilBlackwell).
A"Grid"
of SpatialPractices
Accessibility& Appropriation& Domination&
Distanciation Use of Space Controlof Space
-oo
Materialspatialpractices Flowsof goods,money, Urbanbuiltenviron- Privatepropertyin land,
(experience) people,labourpower, ments, socialspaces state,&administrative
information,etc.; of the city &other'turf' divisionsof space;
transport&communi- designations;social exclusive communities
cationssystems;market networksof communi- &neighborhoods;
andurbanhierarchies; cation&mutualaid exclusionaryzoning
agglomeration &otherformsof
socialcontrol(policing
andsurveillance)

of space
Representations Social,psychological and Personalspace;mental Forbiddenspaces;
(perception) physical measures of mapsof occupiedspace; "territorial
imperatives;"
distance;mapmaking; spatialhierarchies; community; regional
theoriesof the'frictionof symbolicrepresentation culture;nationalism;
distance'(principleof of spaces hierarchies
geopolitics;
leasteffort,socialphysics,
rangeof a good,central
place&otherforms
of locationtheory)

Spacesof representation "Mediais the message" Popularspectacles- Organizedspectacles;


(imagination) new modesof spatial streetdemonstrations, monumentality &
transaction (radio, riots;placesof popular constructedspacesof
t.v.,film,photography, spectacle(streets,squares, ritual;symbolicbarriers
painting,etc.);diffusion markets); iconography andsignalsof symbolic
of "taste" andgraffiti capital

Material spatialpractices
referto thephysicalandmaterial
flows,transfers,andinter-actions
thatoccurinand
acrossspacein sucha wayasto assureproduction
andsocialreproduction.

Representations of space
encompass the signsandsignifications,
allof codesandknowledge,thatallowsuch
materialpractices to be talkedabout
and understood,no matterwhetherin termsof
everyday common senseor the
through sometimesarcanejargonof the academic
thatdealwith spatialpractices(engineering,
disciplines architecture,geography,
planning,socialecology,andthe like).

Spacesof representation
aresocialinventions(codes,signs,andevenmaterialconstructssuchassymbolic
built
spaces,particular environments,paintings,museums andthe like)thatseekto
257
forspatialpractices.
generatenew meaningsorpossibilities

Lefebvrecharacterizes
thesethreedimensionsasthe experienced, andthe
theperceived,
He regardsthe dialecticalrelationsbetweenthemasthe fulcrumof a
imagined.
tensionthrough
dramatic whichthehistoryof spatial canberead.The
practices

DavidHarvey
relations A "vulgar
are,however,problematic. Marxist"
positionwouldpresumably
holdthatmaterial directlydetermine
practices
spatial boththerepresentations
of
spaceandthe spacesof representation.
Marxdidnot holdsucha view.'9He depicts
knowledge asamaterial forceintheGrundrisse
productive andwritesinajustly
famouspassage in Capital:"Whatdistinguishestheworstof architects
fromthebest
ofbeesisthis,thatthearchitectraiseshisstructure
inimagination
beforeheerectsit
inreality."2Thespacesofrepresentation, havethepotential
therefore, notonlyto
affectrepresentation
of spacebutalsoto actasamaterial forcewith
productive
respectto spatial
practices.
Butto arguethattherelations betweentheexperienced,theperceived,andthe
imaginedaredialectically,
ratherthancausally,
determinedleavesthingsmuchtoo
vague.Bordieu providesa clarification.
Heexplainshow"amatrixofperceptions,
appreciations,andactions" canatoneandthesametimebeputto workflexiblyto
"achieve diversified
infinitely whileatthesametimebeing"inthelast
tasks,"
instance"(Engels'sfamousphrase)engendered outofthematerialexperienceof
structures"
"objective andtherefore "outoftheeconomicbasisofthesocial
formationinquestion."2"Bordieu acceptsthe"well-founded
primacy ofobjective
without,however,makingthefalseinference
relations" thattheobjectiveor
structuresarethemselvesendowedwithapowerof autonomous development
independent of human agency.
Themeditating linkisprovided by theconceptof "habitus"-a
"durablyinstalled
principle
generative of regulated which"produces
improvisations" thatin
practices"
turntendto reproduce theobjectiveconditions
whichproduced thegenerative
ofhabitus
principle inthefirstplace.Thecircular(evencumulative?)causationis
obvious.Bordieu's conclusionis, however,averystriking ofthe
depiction
to thepowerof theimagined
constraints overtheexperienced:
Because isanendless
thehabitus toengender
capacity products-thoughts,
perceptions, actions-whose
expressions, limitsaresetbythehistorically
and
socially conditions
situated ofits the and
production, conditioning conditional
is asremotefroma creation
it secures
freedom ofunpredictable
noveltyasit is
of the initialconditionings.22
froma simplemechanicalreproduction

I acceptthattheorization
andwilllatermakeconsiderable
useofit.
Across the top of the grid (Table i) I list three other aspects to spatialpracticedrawn
from more conventionalunderstandings:

Accessibilityanddistanciation
speakto the role of the "frictionof distance"in human
affairs.Distanceis botha barrierto anda defenseagainsthumaninteraction.It 258

imposes transactioncosts upon any system of productionand reproduction


(particularlythose basedon any elaboratesocialdivisionof labour,trade, and social

I9 K. Marx, Grundrisse
(Harmondsworth:Penguin, I973).
20 Marx, Capital,volune I (New York: InternationalPublishers,I967).
21 P. Bourdieu,Outlineof a Theoryof Practice(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press, I977).
of reproductive
differentiation is simplyameasure
functions).Distanciation ofthe
degreeto whichthefrictionof spacehasbeenovercome to accommodatesocial
interaction.23
Theappropriation
ofspaceexaminesthewayinwhichspaceisusedandoccupied by
classes,orothersocialgroupings.
individuals, and
Systemitized institutionalized
appropriation
may entailthe of founded
production territorially formsof social
solidarity.
Ihedominationofspacereflectshowindividualsorpowerful groupsdominate
the
andproduction
organization of spacesoasto exercisea greater
degreeofcontrol
eitheroverthefrictionofdistanceoroverthemanner inwhichspaceis appropriated
bythemselves orothers.
Thesethreedimensions to spatial
practicearenotindependent ofeachother.The
frictionof distanceisimplicitinanyunderstanding of thedomination and
appropriation of space,whilethepersistent of a spacebya particular
appropriation
group(saythegangthathangsoutonthestreetcorner)amounts to adefacto
domination of thatspace.Furthermore, theattemptto dominate space,insofar
asit
requiresreductions in thefrictionofdistance(capitalism's
"annihilationof space
through time"forexample)altersdistanciation.
Thisgridof spatialpracticestellsusnothingimportant initself.Spatial
practices
derivetheirefficacyin sociallifeonlythrough thestructure
of socialrelationswithin
whichtheycomeintoplay.Underthesocialrelations ofcapitalism, spatial
practices
becomeimbuedwithclassmeanings. Toputit thiswayisnot,however,to argue
thatspatial
practices arederivative of capitalism.
Thesespatialpracticestakeon
specificmeanings andthesemeanings areputintomotionandspacesareusedina
waythroughtheagencyof class,gender,orothersocialpractices.24
particular When
placedinthecontextofcapitalist socialrelations
andimperatives (theaccumulation
ofcapital),thegridcanhelpusunravel someofthecomplexity thatprevailsinthe
fieldofcontemporary spatial
practices.
Mypurpose in settingupthegridwasnot,however,to setabouta systematic
ofthepositions
exploration withinit, although
suchanexamination wouldbeof
considerableinterest(andI havepennedinafewcontroversial within
positionings
thegridforpurposes ofillustration).
Mypurpose isto findawayto characterize
the
radical
shiftsintheclasscontentandthenatureof spatial thathave
practices

22 Ibid., p. 95.
259 23 A. Giddens, Ihe Constitutionof Society (Oxford: Polity Press, I984), p. 258-9.

24 The gender,racial,ethnic, and religiouscontents of spatialpracticesalsoneed to be consideredin any full


accountof community formationandthe productionof socialspacesin urbansettings.A beginninghas
been madeon the genderaspectin works by C. Stimson,ed., WomenandtheCity (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, I981); D. Rose, "RethinkingGentrification;Beyond the Uneven Development of Marx's
Urban Theory"in SocietyandSpaceII (1984): p. 47-74;ShlayA. and Di Gregorio,D. "SameCity,
Different Worlds:ExaminingGenderand Work-baseDifferencesin Perceptionof Neighborhood
Desirability",in UrbanAffairsQuarterly, no. 2I (I985): p. 6686; andSmith, N., "OfYuppies and
Housing; Gentrification,SocialRestructuring,andthe Urban Dream," in SocietyandSpace,vol. V (2,
1987): p. I5I-I72.

David Harvey
occurredoverthe lasttwo decades.The pressureto reorganize the interiorspaceof
the city,forexample,hasbeenconsiderable underthe conditionsof flexible
accumulation.The vitalityof the centralcity corehasbeenre-emphasised, themes
suchasthe qualityof urbanliving(gentrification,consumptionpalaces,and
sophisticatedentertainment)andenhancedsocialcontroloverbothpublicand
privatespaceswithinthe city,havebeenof widespreadsignificance.But the urban
processhasalsohadto copewith increasingimpoverishment andunemployment,
underconditionswherethe socialwagecouldnot be increased.Here,too, spatial
practiceshaveshiftedin parttowardsanincreasingcontrolthrougha returnto
ghettoization(a practicethatwasnever,of course,severelydented,let alone
overcome)andthe riseof new spaceswherethe homelesswander,the
schizophrenics anddischarged mentalpatientshangout, andthe impoverished
practicebothnew andwell-triedsurvivalstrategies.How, then, arewe to make
of classpolarities?
senseof allthisshiftingandconflict-pronespatialization Arethere
ways, futhermore,to addressthe questionof spatialempowermentof the
segregated,oppressed,andimpoverished populationsincreasingly to be foundin all
urbanareas?

ClassPracticesandthe Constructionof Community


Differentclassesconstructtheirsenseof territoryandcommunityin radically
different
ways.25 Thiselemental factisoftenoverlooked bythosetheoristswho
presume apriorithatthereis someideal-typical anduniversal
tendencyforallhuman
ahumancommunity
beingsto construct of a roughlysimilar
sort,nomatterwhat
oreconomic
thepolitical circumstances.A studyofclassagencywithrespectto
community constructionunderconditions ofcontemporary urbanizationillustrates
howessentiallysimilarspatial canhaveradically
practices different
classcontents.
Letuslookmoreclosely,forexample,attheclasspractices
throughwhich
communities inurbansettings.Weencounter
aretypicallyconstructed hereallthe
flexibility ofperceptions,
andadaptability andactionsthatBordieu
appreciations,
insistsupon.Butthecontrast betweencommunity construction
inthelow-income
anddisempowered strataofthepopulation
andintheaffluent
andempowered strata
isindeedstriking.
Low-income usuallylackingthemeansto overcome
populations, andhence
command forthemostparttrapped
space,findthemselves in space.Sinceowner-
shipofevenbasicmeansofreproduction (suchashousing)is restricted, themain
wayto dominate spaceisthroughcontinuous appropriation. Exchange values
arescarce,andsothepursuitofusevaluesfordailysurvival is centralto socialaction.
Thismeansfrequentmaterialandinterpersonal transactionsandtheformation 260

ofverysmallscalecommunities.Withinthecommunity space,usevaluesget
sharedthroughsomemixofmutualaidandmutualpredation, creatingtightbut
oftenhighlyconflictual socialbonding
interpersonal inbothprivateandpublic
spaces.Theresultisanoftenintenseattachment to placeand"turf"andto anexact

25 I am here deeply indebtedto the researchwork of PhillipSchmandt.


senseof boundaries it isonlythroughactiveappropriation
because thatcontrol
overspaceisassured.
Successfulcontrolpresumes apowerto excludeunwanted elements.Fine-tuned
ethnic,religious,
racial,and status
discriminations arefrequently calledintoplay
withinsuchaprocessof community construction. Furthermore, political
organization takesa specialform,generally expressive cultureofpolitical
of a
resistanceandhostilityto normal channels of political
incorporation. Thestateis
largelyexperienced asanagencyof repressive control(inpolice,education, etc.)
ratherthanasanagencythatcanbecontrolled by andbringbenefitsto them.26
Political
organizations of aparticipatorysortare,asCrenson observes,27 weakly
developed, andpoliticsofthebourgeois sortunderstood asirrelevant to the
procuring of theusevaluesnecessary fordailysurvival. Nevertheless, thestate
intervenesin suchcommunities sincetheyarevitalpreserves of thereserve armyof
theunemployed-spacesof suchdeprivation thatallsortsofcontagious socialills
(fromprostitution canflourish,
to tuberculosis) andspacesthatappear dangerous
preciselybecause they lieoutsideof thenormal processes of social incorporation.
Contrast thiswiththepractices of affluentgroups,whocancommand space
throughspatial and
mobility ownership of basic
means of reproduction (houses,cars,
etc.). Already blessedwithabundant exchange valueswithwhichto sustain life,
theyareinnowaydependent uponcommunity-provided usevaluesforsurvival.
Theconstruction of community isthengearedmainlyto thepreservation or
enhancement ofexchange values.Usevaluesrelateto matters of accessibility,
taste,
tone, aestheticappreciation,and the symbolic and cultural that
capital goes with
possessionof a certain kindof "valued," builtenvironment. Interpersonalrelations
areunnecessary atthestreetlevel,andthecommand overspacedoesnothaveto
beassured throughcontinuous appropriation. Moneyprovides accessto the
community, makingit lessexclusionary onothergrounds (residentialsegregation
byethnicityandevenracetendsto weakenthefurther uptheincomescaleone
goes).Boundaries arediffuseandflexible,mainlydependent uponthespatial field
ofexternality effectsthatcaneffectindividual property values.Community
organizations formto takecareofextemality effectsthatcaneffectindividual
property valuesandmaintain the"tone" of thecommunity space.Thestateis seen
asbasically beneficialandcontrollable, assuringsecurityandhelpingkeep
undesirables out,exceptinunusual circumstances(thelocationof "noxious"
theconstruction
facilities, ofhighways,etc.).
Distinctive andprocesses
practices
spatial ofcommunity construction-coupled
261 cultural
withdistinctive and
practices ideological outof
predispositions-arise
material
different circumstances.Conditions ofeconomic andsocio-
oppression
domination
political quitedifferent
generate kindsof spatial andstylesof
practices
community formation thanwilltypicallybefoundunderotherclasscircumstances.

26P. Willis, Learningto Labor(Famborough:SaxonHouse, I977).


27 Politics(Cambridge:HarvardUniversity Press, I983).
M. Crenson,Neighborhood

David Harvey
theProduction
Informalization, ofSymbolicCapital,andthe
of theSpectacle
Mobilization
Flexible
accumulationhasdeeplyaffectedclassstructures
andpolitical-economic
soasto modifytheprocesses
possibilities ofcommunity while
production,
re-emphasisingtheimportanceoftheclasscontentof spatial I willlook
practices.
brieflyat threeaspectsof thistransformation.

andInformalization
Impoverishment
The UnitedStateshaveexperiencedanincreasein the sheernumbersof the urban
ofthispovertypopulation
poorsinceI972. Thecomposition hasalsochanged.
Unemployedblue-collar workersthrownon the streetby de-industrialization, and
the floodof displacedpeopleout of depressedruralorregionaleconomiesorfrom
third-world countries,havebeenpiledon top of what Marxcalledthe "hospital" of
the workingclass,left to fendforitselfin the cities. In somecases,particular
urban
communitiestiedto a dominantlocalemploymentsourcehavebeenplungedasa
wholeintoa conditionof impoverishment by a singleplantclosing.Inother
instances,particularlyvulnerablegroups,suchasfemale-headed households,have
beenplungeddeeperintothe mireof poverty,thuscreatingzoneswherephenomena
likethe feminizationof povertybecomedominant.Fiscalconstraints,of whichneo-
conservativism hasmadea politicalvirtueratherthananeconomicnecessity,at the
sametimehaveundercutthe flow of publicservices,andhencethe life-support
mechanisms,forthe massof the unemployedandthe poor.

Learningto copeandsurvivein urbansettingson almostno incomeis anartthat


takesa whileto learn.The balancebetweencompetition,mutualpredation,and
mutualaidhasconsequentlyshiftedwithinlow incomepopulations.The growthof
impoverishment hasled, paradoxically,to a diminutionof the powerof some
of the morepositivemechanismsto copewith it. But therehasalsobeenoneother
dramaticresponse:the riseof whatis knownasthe "informal sector"in American
cities,a sectorthatfocusseson illegalpracticessuchasdrug-trafficking, prostitution,
andlegalproductionandtradingof services.Mostobserversagreethatthese
practicesexpandedin scopeandformafterI972.28Furthermore, the same
phenomenawereobservedinEuropeancities,thusbringing
theurbanprocessinthe
advanced asawholemuchcloserto thethird-world
countries
capitalist urban
experience.29
variesgreatly,
Thenatureandformofinformalization dependinguponthe
to findlocalmarkets
opportunities ofthereserve
forgoodsandservices,thequalities
armyof labourpower(its skillsandaptitudes),genderrelations(forwomenplaya 262
roleinorganizing
veryconspicuous informal thepresence
economies), of small-scale
oftheauthorities
skills,andthewillingness
entrepreneurial andoversight
(regulatory

28M.CastellsandA. Portes,"WorldUnderneath:TheOrigins,Dynamics,andEffectsof the Informal


Economy,"Conference Sector
StudyoftheInformal
ontheComparative (Baltimore:JohnsHopkins
University).
andE.Mingioneeds.,Beyond
29 N. Redclift Unemployment: Gender,
Household, andSubsistence
(Oxford:Basil
Blackwell, I985).
co

powerslikethe unions)to toleratepracticesthatareoftenoutsidethe law. Low-


incomecommunitiespresent,in the firstplace,a vastreserveof labourpowerunder
strongpressurein thesetimesto finda livingof almostanysort.
Underconditionsof governmentlaxnessandtradeunionweakness,new kindsof
productionof goodsandservicescanarise,sometimesorganizedfromoutsidethe
community,butin otherinstancesorganizedby entrepreneurs withinthe low-
incomecommunityitself. Homeworkhasbecomemuchmoreprominent,allowing
women,forexample,to combinethe tasksof child-rearing andproductivelabourin
the samespace,whilesavingentrepreneurs the costsof overhead(plant,lighting,
etc.). Sweatshopsandthe informalprovisionof servicesbeganto emergeasvital
aspectsof the New YorkandLosAngeleseconomiesin the I970S andby now have
becomeimportantthroughoutthe U. S. urbansystem.Thesehavebeenparalleled
byanincreasing
commodification
of traditional
mutualaidsystemswithinlow-
incomecommunities.Baby-sitting,
laundering, fixingup,andoddjobs,
cleaning,
whichusedto beswapped moreasfavours,arenowboughtandsold,sometimes on
anentrepreneurial
basis.
Socialrelations
withinmanylow-income
communities
have,asaconsequence,
becomemuchmoreentrepreneurial,
with allof the consequencesof excessiveand
oftenextraordinaryexploitation ofwomen)inthelabour
(particularly process.The
flowofincomesintosuchcommunities hasincreased,butattheexpenseof
traditional
mutualaidsystemsandthestronger implantationof socialhierarchies
withinthecommunities themselves. Theflowofvalueoutof suchcommunities has
alsoincreased Thishasledmanyto lookwithsurprise
substantially. atthelocal
dynamics ofurbandevelopment andto argueforthetoleration,acceptance, and
evenencouragement ofinformalization,thuslendingcredence to theneo-
conservativeargument thatprivateentrepreneurial
activityisalwaysthepathto
economic growthandsuccess-asif thatcouldsolvetheproblems of allthepoor
ratherthanthoseofjusta selectfew. Nevertheless,
thegrowthofinformalization-
andtheemergence ofunregulated urbanspaceswithinwhichsuchpractices
aretolerated-isaphenomenon thoroughlyconsistentwiththenewregimeof
flexibleaccumulation.

TheProduction
ofSymbolic
Capital
Thefreneticpursuit
of theconsumption of theaffluent
dollars hasledto a much
stronger
emphasisuponproduct undertheregimeofflexible
differentiation
accumulation.Producers have,asa consequence,begunto explorethe realmsof
63 Gdifferentiated
tastesandaestheticpreferences in waysthatwerenot so necessary
undera Fordistregimeof standardisedaccumulation throughmassproduction.In so
doing,theyhavere-emphasised a powerfulaspectof capitalaccumulation:the
and of what Bourdieu 30
calls"symboliccapital." Thishas
production consumption
hadimportantimplications forthe productionandtransformation of the urban
in
spaces which upper-income groups live.

30 Bourdieu,Outlineof a Theoryof Practice


(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press, I977),
pp 177-97;
idem, Distinction:A SocialCritiqueof theJudgement
of Taste(London: Routledgeand KeganPaul, I984).

David Harvey
"Symbolic isdefinedby Bourdieu
capital" as"thecollection of luxurygoodsattesting
thetasteanddistinction of theowner." Suchcapitalis, ofcourse,a transformed kind
ofmoneycapital,but"produces itsproper
effectinasmuch, andonlyinasmuch, asit
concealsthefactthatit originates in"material"
formsofcapitalwhicharealso,inthe
lastanalysis,
thesourceofitseffects." Thefetishism involvedisobvious,butit ishere
deliberately
deployed to conceal,throughtherealms of cultureandtaste,thereal
basesofeconomic distinctions.Since"themostsuccessful ideologicaleffectsare
thosewhichhavenowords,andasknomorethancomplicitous silence,"the
productionof symbolic capitalservesideological
functions because themechanisms
throughwhichit contributes "tothereproduction oftheestablished orderandto the
perpetuationof domination remain hidden."
3

Itisinstructiveto bringBourdieu'stheorizations
to bearupontheproduction of
upper-class communities andtheirbuiltenvironments. Ithasa lotto tellus
aboutthematerial processesofgentrification,
therecuperationof "history" (real,
imagined,orsimplyre-created aspastiche)andof "community" (again,real,
imagined,orsimplypackaged forsalebyproducers), andtheneedforembellish-
mentdecoration, andornamentation thatcouldfunctionassomanycodesand
symbols of socialdistinction.32
I donotmeanto arguethatsuchphenomena
arein anyway new-they havebeena vitalfeatureto capitalisturbanization
from
theverybeginning and,ofcourse,bearmorethanafewechoesofdistinctions
passedonfromoldersocialorders.Buttheyhavebecomeofmuchgreater signi-
ficancesinceI972,inpartthrough theirproliferation
intolayersofthepopulation
thatwerehithertodeniedthem.Flexible accumulationpermitsa profitableresponse
to the culturaldiscontents
of the I960s,whichimpliedrejectionof standardised
accumulation andamassculturethatprovided toofewopportunities to capture
symbolic capital.Tothedegreethatpolitical economic crisisencouraged the
explorationofproduct sotherepressed
differentiation, marketdesireto acquire
symbolic capitalcouldbecaptured throughtheproduction of builtenvironments.33
Andit was,ofcourse,exactlythiskindofdesirethatpost-modemist architectureset
outto satisfy."Forthemiddleclasssuburbanite," Venturietalobserve,"living,not
in anantebellummansion,butin a smallerversionlostin a largespace,identitymust
comethroughsymbolic treatmentoftheformof thehouse,eitherthroughstyling
providedby thedeveloper
(forinstance,split-level orthroughavarietyof
Colonial)
symbolicornamentsappliedthereafterbytheowner." 34

capitalis, however,opento devaluation


Symbolic orenhancement
through
changes
in taste. If symboliccapitalcontainsa hiddenpowerof domination,thenpower

31Bourdieu,Outlineof a Theoryof Practice(Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, I977), p. I88.


32 G. Simmel, ThePhilosophy of Money(London: Routledgeand KeganPaul, I978); W. Firey,"Sentiment
and Symbolismas EcologicalVariables", AmericanSociologicalReviewIO: I45-60 (1945); and M.Jager,
"ClassDefinition andthe Aestheticsof Gentrification"in N. Smithand P. Williamseds., TheGentrification
of the City (London: Alien andUnwin, I986).
33 N. Smithand M. Lefaivre,"A ClassAnalysisof Gentrification,"inJ. Palenand B. Londoneds.,
andNeighborhood
Displacement
Gentrification, Revitalization
(Albany: StateUniversity of New YorkPress,
1984).
34 Venturi,Scott-Brown, and Izenour;Las Vegas,p. 154.
relationsarethemselves vulnerable intaste.Sincecompetition
to mutations between
producers andthemachinations of consumers render tasteinsecure,
struggles
overfashionacquire withintheurbanscene.35
a certainsignificance Thepowerto
dominate, aswellastheabilityto convertsymbolic intomoneycapital,becomes
embedded inthecultural politicsoftheurbanprocess.Butthatalsoimpliesthat
domination of spacewithintheurbanprocess hasanevenmorevitalcultural edge
to it undera regimeofflexibleaccumulation. Tothedegreethatdomination
ofwhateversortcontains thepotentialityofviolentresponse onthepartofthe
dominated, sohere,too,alatentdomain of conflicthasbeenopenedupforexplicit
articulation.

TheMobilization
of theSpectacle
"Bread andFestivals"
wastheancientRomanformula forsocialpacification
ofthe
restless
plebs.Theformula
hasbeenpassedonintocapitalist
culturethrough,for
example,SecondEmpireParis,wherefestivalandtheurbanspectacle became
instrumentsof socialcontrolin a societyrivenby classconflict.36

SinceI972, theurbanspectaclehasbeentransformed
fromcounter-cultural
events,
anti-wardemonstrations, streetriots,andthe inner-cityrevolutionsof the I96os. It
hasbeencapturedasbotha symbolandaninstrumentof communityunification
underbourgeoiscontrolin conditionswhereunemploymentandimpoverishment
havebeenon the riseandwhereobjectiveconditionsof classpolarization havebeen
increasing.As partof thisprocess,the modernistpenchantformonumentality-the
communication of the permanence,authority,andpowerof the established capitalist
order-hasbeenchallengedby an"official" post-modernist stylethatexploresthe
architectureof festivalandspectacle,with its senseof the ephemeral,of display,and
of transitorybutparticipatorypleasure.The displayof the commodityhasbecomea
centralpartof the spectacle,ascrowdsflockto gazeat themandat eachotherin
intimateandsecurespaceslikeBaltimore's HarborPlace,Boston'sFaneuilHall,and
a hostof enclosedshoppingmallsthathavesprungup alloverAmerica.Evenwhole
builtenvironments havebecomecenterpiecesof urbanspectacleanddisplay.

ThisphenomenondeservesmoredetailedscrutinythanI cangivehere. It fits, of


course,with urbanstrategiesto captureconsumerdollarsto compensateforde-
Itsundoubtedcommercialsuccessrestsin parton the way in
industrialization.
whichthe actof buyingconnectsto the pleasureof the spectaclein securedspaces,
safefromviolenceorpoliticalagitation.Baltimore's HarborPlacecombinesallof the
bourgeoisvirtuesthatBenjaminattributedto the arcadesof nineteenth-century
Pariswith the senseof the festivalthatattachedto worldexpositions,"placesof
to thefetishCommodity."
pilgrimage wouldtakeit further:"thespectacle
37 Debord

isthedevelopedmoderncomplementofmoneywherethetotalityof the

35 See S. Zurkin, LoftLiving:CultureandCapitalin UrbanChange(Baltimore:Johns HopkinsUniversity


Press, I982).
36Clark, ThePaintingof ModernLife: Parisin theArt of ManetandhisFollowers(New York: Knopf, I985).
37 W. A LyricPoetin theEraof High Capitalism
Benjamin,CharlesBaudelaire: (London: NLB, I973), pp
I58-65.

David Harvey
commodity worldappearsasawhole,asa general equivalence forwhattheentire
societycanbeandcando."Tothedegreethatthespectacle becomes"thecommon
groundof deceivedgazeandoffalseconsciousness," soit canalsopresentitself
as"aninstrument InBaltimore,
ofunification."38 MayorSchaefer andtheurban
classalliance
rangedbehindhim,haveconsciously usedthespectacle of Harbor
Placepreciselyinthatway,asa symbolof thesupposed unityof aclass-dividedand
city.Professional
racially-segregated andeventsliketheLos
sportsactivities
AngelesOlympicGamesperform functioninanotherwise
a similar fragmented
urbansociety.
Urbanlife,undera regimeofflexibleaccumulation, hasthuscomeincreasingly to
presentitselfasan"immense of spectacles,"
accumulation American downtowns no
longercommunicate exclusively amonumental senseof power,authority,and
corporatedomination. Instead theyexpresstheideaof spectacle andplay.Itison
ofthespectacle
thisterrain thatthebreakintothepost-modern, urbanculturethat
hasaccompanied flexibleaccumulationhaspartiallybeenfashioned, andit isinthe
contextof suchmediating imagesthattheoppositions of classconsciousnessand
classpracticeshaveto unfold.39But,asDebordobserves, thespectacle"isneveran
imagemountedsecurely andfinallyinplace;it isalwaysanaccountoftheworld
competing withothers,andmeetingtheresistance ofdifferent,sometimes tenacious
40
formsof socialpractice."

Accumulation
UrbanStressUnderFlexible
accumulation
Flexible impactuponallurbaneconomies.
hashada serious The
ofmanyurbangovernments
entrepreneurialism
increasing (particularlythosethat
haveemphasised partnership")
"public-private hastendedto reinforce it andthe
andpost-modemist
neoconservativism trendsthatwentwithit. Theuseof
cultural
to capture
scarceresources
increasingly development hasmeantthatthesocial
consumptionofthepoorwasneglected inorderto providebenefitsto keeptherich
andpowerfulintown.Thiswastheswitchindirection thatPresidentNixon
whenhedeclared
signalled theurbancrisisoverin I973. Whatthatmeant,ofcourse,
wasthetransmutation intonewforms.
ofurbanstresses
Theinternal adaptationswithinthecitylikewiseplayedtheirpartinfacilitating
and
fomenting flexibleaccumulation.Poorpopulationshadtobecomemuchmore
adopting,
entrepreneurial, economic
forexample,"informa'l" meansto survive.
competition
Increasing underconditions
forsurvival ofincreasing
impoverishment
meantserious mutualaidmechanisms
erosionoftraditional inurbancommunities
thathadlittlecapacityto dominatespaceandwereoftendisempowered withrespect 266

(Detroit: : Black and Red Books, I983).


38G. Debord, Societyof theSpectacle
391can not resistdrawingattentionto the way in which Barthes(7TePleasureof theText[New York: Hill
and Wang, I975]) broughtthe concept ofjouissance into philosophicalrespectabilityat the sametime as
the explorationof the city as a theater,as a spectacle,full of play spacesbecamemore prominentin both
the theory andpracticeof urbandesign.I alsosuspectthat the appreciationof the urbanfabricas a "text"
to be readandinterpretedwith pleasurehad somethingto do with the tax advantagesthat derivedto the
realestate industrydeclaringwhole segmentsof the city "historicpreservationdistricts".
40Debord, Societyof theSpectacle.
to normal processesofpolitical
integration.Theabilityto dominate spacethrough
communal andmutually
solidarity supportive patternsofappropriation weakenedat
theverymomentthatmanyspacesbecamevulnerable to invasion andoccupation
byothers.A tensionarosebetweenincreasing unemployment ofworkersin
traditionaloccupations andtheemployment growthtriggered by downtown
revivals basedonfinancialservicesandtheorganization of spectacles.
A newand
relativelyaffluentgenerationof professional
andmanagerial workers,raisedonthe
cultural withmodernism
discontents inthe I96os,cameto dominate wholezonesof
inner-cityurbanspaceseekingproduct differentiation
inbuiltenvironments, quality
of life,andcommand of symbolic The of
capital. recuperation"history" and
"community" became essential
sellinggimmicks to theproducers ofbuilt
environments. Thustheturnto post-modernist styleswasinstitutionalized.
Thereareserious socialandspatialstresses inherent in sucha situation. Tobegin
with,increasing classpolarization (symbolized bytheincredible surgeinurban
povertysurrounding islandsof startlingandconspicuous wealth)isinherently
dangerous, andgiventheprocesses ofcommunity construction availableto thepoor,
it alsosetsthestageforincreasing racial,ethnic,religious, orsimply"turf'tensions.
Fundamentally different classmechanisms fordefining thespatiality
ofcommunity
comeintoconflict,thussparking running guerillawarfare overwhoappropriates and
controls various spacesofthecity.Thethreatofurbanviolence,although notofthe
massivesortexperienced inthe I96os,loomslarge.Thebreakdown of theprocesses
thatallowthepoorto construct anysortofcommunity ofmutualaidisequally
dangerous sinceit entailsanincrease inindividual anomie,alienation, andallof the
antagonisms thatderivetherefrom. Thefewwho"make it"through informal sector
activitycannotcompensate forthemultitude whowon't.At theotherendof the
socialscale,thesearchforsymbolic capitalintroduces a culturaldimension to
politicaleconomic tensions.Thelatterfeedinter-class andpromptstate
hostilities
interventions thatfurther alienatelow-income populations (I amthinking,for
example,of thewaystreet-corner youthsgetharassed ingentrifying
neighborhoods). Themobilization of thespectacle hasitsunifyingeffects,butit isa
fragileanduncertain toolforunification, andto thedegreethatit forcesthe
consumer to become"aconsumer ofillusions"it contains itsownspecificalienations.
Controlled spectacles andfestivalsareonething,butriotsandrevolutions canalso
become"festivals of thepeople."
Butthereisafurther
contradiction.
Heightenedinter-urban
competition
produces
socially investments
wasteful thatcontribute
to, ratherthanameliorate, over-
the
267
accumulationproblemthat lay behind the transitionto flexible accumulationin the
firstplace.41Put simply,how many successfulconvention centers, sportsstadia,
disney worlds, and harborplacescan there be? Successis often short-livedor
renderedmoot by competing or alternativeinnovationsarisingelsewhere. Over-
investmentin everythingfromshoppingmallsto culturalfacilitiesmakesthe values
embeddedin urbanspacehighlyvulnerableto devaluation.Down-townrevivals

41 Harvey and Scott, "HumanGeography".

David Harvey
builtuponburgeoning employment infinancial
andrealestateserviceswherepeople
dailyprocessloansandrealestatedealsforotherpeopleemployed infinancial
andrealestate,dependuponahugeexpansion
services ofpersonal, and
corporate,
governmental debts.Ifthatturnssour,theeffectswillbefarmoredevastatingthan
thedynamiting of Pruitt-Igoe
evercouldsymbolize. Therashofbankfailuresin
Texas,Colorado, andevenCalifornia(manyofthemattributable to over-
investmentinrealestate)suggeststhattherehasbeenseriousover-investmentin
urbanre-development.
Flexible in short,is associated
accumulation, withahighlyfragilepatterning
of
aswellaswithincreasing
urbaninvestment, socialandspatial ofurban
polarization
classantagonisms.

Political
Responses
"Every ordertendsto produce,"
established Bordieuwrites,"thenaturalization
ofits
ownarbitrariness"
the"mostimportant andbestconcealed"mechanism forsodoing
is"thedialectic
oftheobjectivechancesandtheagent'saspirations,
outofwhich
arisesthe senseof limits,commonlycalledthe senseof reality"
whichis "thebasisof
themostineradicable adherenceto theestablished
order."Knowledge (perceived and
imagined) thereby"becomes anintegral
partofthepowerof societyto reproduce
itself."The"symbolic powerto imposetheprinciplesofconstruction
of reality-in
socialreality-isamajordimension
particular, ofpolitical
power."42

Thisisakeyinsight.Ithelpsexplainhoweventhemostcritical theoristcanso
easilyendupreproducing "adherence to theestablishedorder."Itexplains Tafuri's
conclusion (basedonthehistoryof avant-gardism andmodernity in architecture)
of
theimpossibilityof anyradicaltransformationofcultureandtherefore ofanyradical
andtransforming architectural inadvance
practice of anyradical transformationin
socialrelations.43
Thisinsightcompelsscepticism towards thosewhohaverecently
embraced post-modernism (orradical
individualismor some otheraspectof
contemporary practice)asa radical
andliberatingbreakwiththepast.Thereis
strongevidencethatpost-modernity isnothingmorethanthecultural clothingof
flexibleaccumulation."Creative destruction"
-that centerpiece of capitalist
modernity-isjustascentralindailylifeasit everwas.Thedifficulty, therefore,isto
finda political
response to theinvariantandimmutable truthsofcapitalism ingeneral
whileresponding to theparticularformsof appearance thatcapitalism nowexhibits
underconditions offlexibleaccumulation. Fromthatstandpoint, therefore,letme
exploresomemodestproposals.
Consider, theinterstices
first,exploring ofpresentprocesses
forpointsof resistance 268
andempowerment.Decentralization anddeconcentrationtakentogetherwith the
culturalconcernwith qualitiesof placeandspace,create,a politicalclimatein which
the politicsof community,place,andregioncanunfoldin new ways, at the very
momentwhen the culturalcontinuityof allplacesis seriouslythreatenedby flexible

42Bourdieu,Outlineof a Theoryof Practice(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press, I977), p. I64.


43 M. Tafuri,Architecture
andUtopia(Cambridge,Mass.: MIT Press, I976).
accumulation.Itisoutof thatsortoftensionthatFrampton aregional
advocates
to thehomogenizing
of resistance
architecture andRossi
forcesofglobalcapitalism,44
pursuesanarchitecture expressiveof thecontinuity ofneighbourhoodtradition
and
collective
memory.4s Theculturalthesesofpost-modernity opento
are,evidently,
radical
interpretationinthecauseofgreater empowerment ofthepoorand
underprivileged.Butthatis smallbeercompared to the"creative
destruction"
with
whichflexibleaccumulation typicallyscarsthefabricofthecity.
accumulation
Flexible alsoopensupnewpathsof socialchange.Spatial dispersal
meansmuchgreater of
equality opportunity
geographical to lurein newactivities
to
eventhesmallesttownsintheremotest region.Position
withintheurbanhierarchy
andlargecitieslosetheirinherent
becomeslesssignificant, political-economic
power
to dominate.Smalltownsthathavemanagedto lurein new activitieshaveoften
improved theirpositionremarkably.Butthechillwindsofcompetition blowhard
heretoo. It proveshardto hangonto activitiesevenrecentlyacquired. Asmany
citiesloseasgainby this.Thefermentinlabour markets hasalsoundermined
traditionalunionpowersandopenedupopportunities formigration,employment,
andself-employment forlayersinthepopulation oncedeniedthem(although under
muchmorecompetitive circumstancesleadingto lowwagesanddeteriorated work
conditions forwomen,newmigrants, andghettoized Flexible
minorities).
production opensupthepossibilityof cooperative formsof labour
organization
undera modicum ofworkercontrol.PioreandSabelemphasize thisargumentand
seethisasa decisivemomentinthehistoryof capitalism whentotallynewandmuch
moredemocratic formsofindustrialorganization canbeimplanted.46 Thisstyleof
organization canalsoarisethroughthesocialconsolidationof "informalsector"
activitiesascooperativeandworker-controlled endeavours.
Conditions offlexibleaccumulation,in short,makeworkerandcommunity control
appearasafeasible Theemphasis
to capitalism.
alternative ideologyon
ofpolitical
theleftthereforehasshiftedtowards a"feasible,"
decentralized
socialism,thus
drawing muchmoreinspiration fromsocialdemocracy andanarchism thanfrom
Marxism.
traditional Thisshiftcorrespondswiththevigorous externalattackand
internal of centralized
critique planning mechanisms inthesocialist
countries.47
Political onthelefthaveevolvedinmuchthesamedirection.
practices Municipal
in Britain,economic
socialism and
democracy community in
control theUnited
States,andcommunity mobilization in WestGermany
by the"Greens" the
illustrate
trend.Thereisplainlymuchthatcanbedone,atbothlocalandregionallevels,

269
44Frampton,"CriticalRegionalism."
andtheCity (Cambridge:MIT
45 A. Rossi,Architecture Press, I984).Rossi,it is interestingto note, baseshis
theory of architecturalpractice on ideasof several geographers,notablyVidalde la Blanche,regardingthe
of as
importance neighbourhoods settings for the continuity of"genres de vie"and sites of collective
memory. From my standpoint, Rossi chose the wrong geographerbecauseVidalwas notoriouslyreluctant,
at leastuntil the very end of his life andhis seminalbut much neglectedGeographie de l"Est, to explorethe
dynamic transformationsof social and physical landscapeswrought under capitalistsocialrelations.
46M. PioreandC. Sabel,TheSecondIndustrialDivide(New York: BasicBooks, I984).
of FeasibleSocialism(London: Allen and Unwin, I983).
47Forexample see A. Nove, TheEconomics

David Harvey
to defendandempowerlocalinterests.Community andreligious
organizations
activelysupportplantbuy-outs,fightplant closure,and otherwisesupport the
mutualaidmechanisms oftraditional,low-income commmunity solidarity.
canalsobepersuaded
Institutions to supportthethrustforgreaterempowerment
ofthepopulationsthatsurround them.A sympathetic stateapparatuscanfind
waysto support cooperatives(inserviceprovision,housingprovision,and
production) andperhapscanalsofindwaysto encourage theformation of skills
through thetappingof localtalent.Financial canbepressured
institutions into
supporting community reinvestment, cooperativeendeavours,andneighbourhood
development Evenspectacles
corporations. canbeorganized inapolitical
cause.
Planners cantryto ensurethatthetransformations ofneighbourhood willpreserve
ratherthandestroycollectivememory.Farbetterthatadeserted factorybeturned
intoacommunity centerwherethecollective memoryofthosewholivedand
workedthereispreserved, ratherthanthatit beturnedintoboutiques andcondos
thatpermittheappropriation ofonepeople's historybyanother.
Butthereareacutedangers. Boththetheoryandthepractices havetheeffectof
reinforcingthefragmentations andreifications.
Itisinvidiousto regard places,
communities, cities,regions,orevennationsas"things inthemselves" ata time
whentheglobalflexibility isgreater
of capitalism thanever.Tofollowthatlineof
thinkingis to beincreasingly,ratherthandecreasingly,
vulnerable inaggregate to the
extraordinary centralizedpowerof flexibleaccumulation. Itisjustasgeographically
unprincipled andnaiveto ignorethequalities ofa globalprocessasit isto ignorethe
distinctive
qualitiesofplaceandcommunity. Practicesfashioned onlyinthelatter
termsdefineapoliticsofadaptation andsubmission ratherthanof activeresistance
andof socialisttransformation.
hasto beginwith the realities
Yeta globalstrategyof resistanceandtransformation
ofplaceandcommunity. Theproblem isto discover
a centralized
politicsthat
matchestheincreasingly centralizedpowerofflexibleaccumulation whileremaining
faithfulto thegrass-rootsof localresistances.The"Greens" in WestGermany and
theRainbow CoalitionintheUnitedStatesappear to betakingupsuchquestions.
Thedifficulty is to mergethesefreshly-minted withamoretraditional,
ideologies
oppositional politicsshapedinresponse to apreviousregimeofaccumulation
(without,however,embracing radicalindividualism,
neo-conservativism,orpost-
modernism assignsof liberation).Thereisplentyof scopehereforprogressive
forcesatlocal,regional, andnational levelsto dothehardpractical
andintellectual
workof creating amore-unifiedoppositional forceoutof themaelstromof social
changethatflexibleaccumulation hasunleashed. 270

Thisismainlyto speak,however,of thepoliticsofresistance.Whatofthepolitics


of somemoreradical transformationsWhilecapitalismis alwaysina stateofpre-
onanyone's
it is scarcely
socialism, agendathesedaysto thinkaboutsomething as
daringasthetransition to socialism.
Bordieu,
perhaps,providesa clueasto why:
Thecritique whichbringstheundiscussedintodiscussion,
theunfor-
mulated intoformulation,
hasasthecondition ofitspossibility
objective
crisis,whichinbreaking
theimmediate fitbetweensubjectivestructures
andtheobjectivestructures, self-evidence
destroys practically.48

Onlyunderconditionsof crisisdo we havethe powerto thinkradicallynew


thoughtsbecauseit thenbecomesimpossibleto reproduce "thenaturalization
of our
own arbitrariness."
All majorsocialrevolutionshavebeenwroughtin the midstof
breakdownin the bourgeoisabilityto govern.

Thereareabundantcracksin the shakyedificeof moderncapitalism,not a few of


themgeneratedby the stressesinherentin flexibleaccumulation.The world's
financialsystem-thecentralpowerin the presentregimeof accumulation-is in
turmoilandweigheddownwith anexcessof debtthatputssuchhugeclaimson
futurelabourthatit is hardto seeanyway to workout of it exceptthroughmassive
defaults,rampantinflation,orrepressivedeflation.The insecurityandpowerof
creativedestructionunleashedby flexibleaccumulation takesa terribletoll, oftenon
manysegmentsof a population,thusgeneratingacutegeopoliticalrivalries.These
couldeasilyspinout of control(asthey didin the 1930s)andbreakup the Westasa
coherentpolitical-economic unit (protectionistandfinancial"wars"havebeenpart
of ourdailydietof newsforsometimenow). Thoughcrisisprone,however,the
systemisnotincrisis,andfewofuscareto consider
capitalist howlifewouldbeif it
were.Indeed,thesystemis soshakythatevento talkaboutitsshakiness
is seenas
rockingit inunseemlyways.
Thisbringsmeto mysecondmajorpoint.Objective crisismaybeanecessary, but
nevera sufficient,
conditionformajorsocialtransformations. Thelatterdepend
upontheriseof somepolitical forcecapable of stepping
intothevacuumof power
anddoingsomething trulycreativewithit. Thenatureofthatpoliticalforcedoes
indeedmakea difference in, to useMarx'sownpolarities, thetransition
to barbarism
orsocialism. Ifthepresentlydisempowered areto haveavoiceinthat,theymust
firstpossess"thematerial
andsymbolic meansof rejecting thedefinition
of thereal
thatis imposedon them. 49 As Willisshows,however,the disempowered
evolve
theirownmeansof symbolic thatinmanyrespects
representation represent
theirsocialworldmoreaccurately
thanthatwhicheducatorswouldimposeupon
them.5?"Drop-out"andoppositional withtheirdistinctive
subcultures,
inner-city
languages,areaswidespread
andvibrantastheyhaveeverbeen.Butthatlanguage,
if onlybecauseit is the languageof thosetrappedin space,is adaptiveratherthan
transformativewith respectto globalprocessesthatprecludeempowermentforthe
271
massofthepopulation.

Criticaltheoryherehasa role.Butonlyif it, too,is self-critical.


Tobeginwith,all
critical
theoryemerges asthepractice
ofa groupof "organic intellectuals"
(touse
Gramsci's phrase)anditsqualities
therefore dependupontheclassandterritory in

48 Bourdieu, Outline, p. I68.

49Ibid., p. I69.
50 Willis, Learningto Labor(Famborough:SaxonHouse, I977).

David Harvey
whichthepractitioners havetheirbeing.Academics andprofessionals
arenot
exempt.Ourcritical theorythereforehascertainqualities
thatdifferentiate
it from
thecritical
theoryexpressed inworking-classculturalandpolitical
practices.True
empowerment for thepresentlydisempowered mustbewonby struggle frombelow
andnotgivenoutof largesse fromabove.Themodesof classandunder-class
oppositionto flexibleaccumulation therefore
mustbetakenseriously. Theproblem,
onallsides,is to findpractices
thatdefinealanguage ofclassandterritorial
alliances
fromwhichmoreglobaloppositional to flexibleaccumulation
strategies canarise.
Eventhatkindof criticaltheorycannotcontaintheanswers.Butit canatleastpose
thequestionsandin sodoingrevealsomething ofthematerial withwhich
realities
anytransition
hasto cope.Thatis, to besure,a smallcontribution.Butit isoutof
theassemblage of suchsmallcontributions
thatmeaningful transformationsmustbe
wrought.A critical ofthecurrent
appraisal regimeofflexibleaccumulation, ofthe
cultural
practicesofpost-modemity, andofthere-shaping ofphysical andsocial
spacethrough togetherwithreflection
urbanization, ontheideologies through
whichwe understand suchprocesses, as
appears one but
small necessary preparatory
steptowardsthe reconstitution
of a movement of to a
globalopposition plainlysick
andtroubledcapitalisthegemony.

272