A Brief History of Neoliberalism

David Harvey has established himself as one of the most insightful and politically relevant social scientists on the left. By extending Marxian political economy into new spheres of social reality – such as the urban environment and space – he has been able to make significant contributions to our understanding of the ways that capitalism shapes everyday life. His seminal work, Social Justice and the City, published over thirty years ago, in 1973, provoked a profound reorientation in urban studies and in the study of capitalism. Harvey proposed the important thesis that urbanism, the city, and all related phenomena, were epiphenomena to the processes of capital. Against the most important urban theorists of the time, such as Henri Lefebvre, whose influential book, The Urban Revolution, argued that the urban was a sphere into itself, separate and, indeed, capable of being a way of life which was anti-capitalist, Harvey reasserted the notion that capital structured space, the city, and the political and cultural life associated with it. Our attention, Harvey suggested, ought never to leave the processes of capital since it was capital that was the dominant force in modern social, and of course, urban, life.

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