Category Archives: week8-socy327

Abbey Ritter- Week 8 Urban 327

Henri Lefebvre was a major contributor to the study in the development of the urban political economy. He explained 4 conceptual changes that are used in Urban Sociology. The first change showed that it was possible to use economic categories such as capital investment, profit, rent, wages, class exploitation, and uneven development in the analysis of cities. This meant that the operation of the economy contributed to the production of something such as shoes. The second change he introduced was the notion that real estate is a separate circuit of capital. He called this real estate the “second circuit of capital.” The circuit is complete when the investor takes that profit and reinvests it in more land-based projects. The investment of real estate pushed the growth of cities in specific ways. The third change that Lefebvre introduced was that all social activities are not only about interaction among individuals but about space as well. He introduced the idea of space as a component of social organization. This meant that space affected behavior and the result of construction behavior because people use certain spaces to suit their own needs. An example of this could be homeless people. In Richmond, for instance, I often see homeless people using Monroe Park as a space to gather because they know many people go through that space and it suits there needs. If they need to ask for money, there are hundreds of people walking through there day in and day out. Lastly, the fourth change that Lefebvre introduced was the role of government in space. He described how the government uses space for social control, such as fire stations and police department in specific locations so that they can react to emergencies and respond quickly across the metropolis. The government dispenses resources and collects taxes according to spatial units, such as cities, counties, individual states, and regions.

Karl Marx, was an earlier sociologist who emphasized the dominance of economic considerations in analysis, while Weber sought to show how cultural and political factors also affected individual behavior and social history along with economic activity. Both approaches complimented one another. Marx identified seven social class groups. Marx’s view of social classes was seen as a precursor to modern-day thinking about interest groups or social classes competing within the political arena. Chapter four focused on the new urban sociology and how it has developed in part from earlier work in what is known as political economy.The political economy perspective studies social processes within urban space and links them to processes occurring at the general level of society. The “double tendency” of capitalism means that it concentrated on money and workers. This made industrial production easier because of the large scale and close proximity of people.

An example of extended conditions of capital accumulation would be if problems such as poverty and homelessness become too severe, they can threaten the ability of working class families to produce new generations of workers, which therefore threatens the future of the capitalist system. Uneven development is the sum total of all social problems that occur, such as segregation and spatial isolation of the classes. It conveys both the disparity between rich and poor and their segregation space by capitalism. ¬†According to Gottdiener, Hutchinson, and Ryan, “Because of uneven development, the society would degenerate into a two-tiered structure, with a select group of people and places that are thriving amid a sea of poverty, except that the US government has stepped in with a safety net of programs that tries to prop up the bottom division” (83).

Lefebvre argued that the way business people think about space is based on its size, width, area, location, and profit. This is known as “abstract space.” ¬†Another theorist, David Gordon, used a class conflict approach to urban development. He argued that owners of businesses prefer to locate in places where workers are not as militant as they are in cities with a long labor tradition. He suggested that locations chosen by capitalists for factories were affected not only by economic needs but also by the desire to remove their works from areas of union organizing. The labor theory of locations argues that the the training and interest in being part of a union contribute to organizing against capital rights and benefits.

Harvey, much like Lefebvre, applied the categories of marxist economic analysis to the study of urban development. He first asserted that the city is a spatial node that concentrates and circulates capital. The second thing he asserted was that the capitalist class and the working class could be divided into various groups within themselves. An example of the capitalist class could be the financial investors, the owners or marketing assets, and the owners of factories. The third thing he asserted was that the capital class requires government to intervene and aid the profit making process within the cities. Lastly, he asserted the different ways capital investment circulates within two circuits, much like Lefebvre.

In conclusion, we see how the class conflict and capital accumulation approaches relate to traditional perspectives today. We constantly see the ebb and flow of real estate investments as well as the structure of manufacturing and how it affects our daily lives. Through the new urban sociology we see how the effects of all the social, political, and economic factors within a city.