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The Production of Space

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,692 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Henri Lefebvre has considerable claims to be the greatest living philosopher. His work spans some sixty years and includes original work on a diverse range of subjects, from dialectical materialism to architecture, urbanism and the experience of everyday life. The Production of Space is his major philosophical work and its translation has been long awaited by scholars in m ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published 1992 by Blackwell (first published 1991)
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Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, stunning, dense, provocative. Lefebvre, one of the finest dissident voices in French Marxism, explores the subtle experiences of space, the ways it is represented in language and practice, and the fundamental role of capitalism's ordering of space and place to shape our world and the ways we experience it as a constraint, as a thing to be struggled against, and as a way into those struggles.

His notion of three forms of space: of spatial practice where space is produced and reproduced
Geoffrey Fox
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“In the beginning was the Topos. Before – long before – the advent of the Logos, in the chiaroscuro realm of primitive life, lived experience already possessed its internal rationality; this experience was producing long before thought space, and spatial thought, began reproducing the projection, explosion, image and orientation of the body.” (p. 174)

In Henri Lefebvre’s terms, living things “produce” space simply by moving. What he meant was that an animal’s or plant’s “gestures,” that is, the
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
OK - this should be prefaced by the fact that I am a huge grad school nerd and largely read books that contribute to rhetorical theory or criticism. That being said, Henri Lefebvre is a crazy, circuitous, uber-french thinker whose ideas about space and how we use/make it are interesting for anyone who questions life in our modern age. Spaces don't just exist anymore he says, they're produced in/by the overarching bureaucracy. However, spaces aren't products like sugar or hair brushes because the ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A classic treaty on humans and space. The main idea being that space is a social product.

Perceived (first), Conceived (second), and Lived (third). Perceived space is the materiality of space. Conceived space is the ways in which space is planned; normative representations of space. Lived space is the emotional experience of space that develops through the imaginary and through lived experience of the first two spaces.

His insights are central to much of human geography. Harvey and Massey have t
JayEm Bosch
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
///NOT MY REVIEW. Just an intriguing one from I want to keep handy...///

Thinkers have long analyzed things in space, but it is time to analyze space itself and "the social relationships embedded in it" according to Lefebvre. He wants to analyze the form, structure, and function of something he calls "social space" and explore how such spaces have been produced.
"Social space" partly consists of a certain configuration of actual space in actual time. Space also encompasses and includes
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This book definitely requires a working knowledge of Marx's theories to understand his argument. While I found many of his ideas interesting, he does seem to suffer from a top-down approach to power and a heavy reliance on structure as defining social relationships. In this context, he spreads his theory too far, attempting to make the power capitalism holds over space universal and thereby neglects the other, non-European areas of the world and how their experiences may have differed from that ...more
A classic work by the French Marxist-humanist scholar on the political economy and social construction of urban spaces. Prolix, yes, and more than a bit meandering--- but a brilliant work that repays the reader's effort. Lefebvre is indispensable in considering the relationship between political economy and the organisation of cities and what "space" means... Highly recommended.
Grace Chia
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Space is political, that's the premise. And by god, that ideology extends to everything. Life-changing read.
John Carter McKnight
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
This book is so magisterial, so essential, and such a hot mess that it's nearly impossible to review. As many have noted, the beginning and end are astonishingly brilliant, while the middle is contradictory, unclear and not terribly useful. Still, anyone interested in technology and society, architecture and urban design, contemporary philosophy, or powerful ideas generally really needs to read this book (skipping the middle chapters if necessary).

That an orthodox French Marxist writing a deeply
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I started this a few years ago, got half way through, and put it down. It's a lot of theory and I understood some of it, but not nearly all. Pretty interesting look at how space is constructed via many different perspectives. In some areas it reminded me of Debord's Society of the Spectacle with all that goes into the construction of shared physical space and how authoritative readings of that space are not the totality of the space. It can change and be appropriated into whole other uses. A den ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i agree with some of the reviews that it's dense, but i hardened my soul, grit my teeth and managed to read and trying to understand through it all .... cause this was the foundation of my thesis. i love the guy though and planning to move it all through my dissertation too (when and if i ever started the dissertation)
Shane Avery
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
good god! breathtaking, groundbreaking, monumental.
Kristin Canfield
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spatial-theory
how many books is this?
R.W. Spryszak
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Even with a thick dictionary and a grounding in philosophy over the last thousand years this book is largely unreadable. Lefebvre wrote this before science decided that "space" can exist without anything in it, and is a structure in and of itself without the need for matter to justify it. Therefore his opening proposition about the historical uses of the concept of "space" is dated, just like the rest of the text. With that explanation Lefebvre becomes inconsequential from the first page. This i ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dense but well-written. Very insightful and in many ways groundbreaking. The last two chapters felt much more rushed and not as in-depth and as the rest of the text. I’m eager to read the critique of everyday life not and see the differences.
Kat Braybrooke
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A classic in spatial theory by one of history's most colourful neo-Marxists that argues why space is produced by - and in turn, produces - our social relations. Difficult to parse, often contradictory, action-focused.
Alexander Craghead
Lefebvre's work seems an attempt to create a unified philosohical theory of space, and as such would seem of great importance in understanding geography, place, and urban form. I find his work, however, to be of limited value. He spends a great deal of time in mental exploration of complex abstractions, so that it seems the only space that is truly important is that which sits between the reader's ears, rather than the actuality of space in the real world. Too much time is spent exploring how di ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This work consumed a lot of time and thought energy – and still does –, but it was very rewarding: I will never be able to look at my flat the way I used to, any street, building or city. I won't even be able to look at a forest the way I used to or any piece of space. It truly proved the rumors to be true about Lefebvre being a "playful marxist".

The most important concepts of Production of Space are his triad dialectic conceived-perceived-lived space (representations of space, spatial practice,
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don't always agree with the claims here, but I really enjoyed their thoroughness and usefulness. Lefebvre's central thesis is that space exists before text, already coding and delimiting the construction, let alone the responses, of subjects (which he uses not only to found his own claims but to push back against, to great effect, the claims of semiology and poststructuralism). Lefebvre's categories along the way - forms of spatial engagement and their periodization historically - are valuably ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lefebvre realiza un ejercicio interesante en la busqueda de las variables dinaminzadoras del proceso de construcción del espacio. Mucha de la literatura utilizaba el espcio como un factor absoluto, ajeno a las dinamicas del sistema de producción social. Su posción pasa precisamente por señalar esa falsedad, e intentar dilucidar los factores socioeconomicos que llevan a una producción del espacio específica.
Mara Eastern
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: space
Lefebvre understands life as an ongoing project, and he conceives his book in this vein. He attempts to sketch the outlines of a unitary theory of space, including such diverse disciplines as philosophy, archaeology, psychology, etc. There are valuable insights in the book, but mostly scattered throughout what reads like a series of loosely connected individual thoughts rather than a coherent and structured whole.
Jun 03, 2008 added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
First off, a warning: this is a very difficult read, even by theory standards. If you can handle dense, turgid prose though, this is strongly recommended. Whereas most spatial theory comes from a more explicitly sociological or geographic perspective, this provides a perspective more grounded in sheer philosophy, which makes it an unusual and highly influential work, and one from which so much contemporary geography is derived.
The Steele
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it
He is such a good little Marxist. But where was he hanging out in Paris . . . the right-bank, also known as the wrong-bank, because he doesn't appear on the left-bank intellectual scene . . . at all.
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm learning that great ideas come from bad writers. While I'm fascinated by the way the author's ideas have been applied, I'm still wondering if he actually wrote a draft of the book or just hit the literary ground running....
Anthony Bolton
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I remember standing in the superb public library at Edinburgh , a beautiful space , enthralled by the provocation of ideas in this book, A wonderful book for anyone interested in philosophies of space,
This book is for me what many claim `Bachelards `poetics of space`is to them.
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was hard to get into. Very academic, of course. Dry to begin with; however, the concepts concerning the inherent violence in relation to abstract space are incredible. Never will I look at a refurbished, re-decorated downtown area of a city or a small town the same again.
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Overwhelming, awesome, but you are better served by getting an introduction to these ideas by reading "The Right to the City" in Writings on Cities and The Urban Revolution. Then this makes much more sense.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the best (probably the best) book written on humanised space. Few other authors come close to Lefebvre in discussing (anthropic) space and the human condition.
Pannill Camp
Jul 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: theory nerds
It is the theoretical rosetta stone of my disseration. Kind of sloppily written, but full of great insights.
This is one convoluted SOB to get through... But I love it!
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  • Uneven Development
  • The Poetics of Space
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  • The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project
Henri Lefebvre was a French sociologist, Marxist intellectual, and philosopher, best known for his work on dialectics, Marxism, everyday life, cities, and (social) space. He coined the slogan "the right to the city".
“Nothing disappears completely ... In space, what came earlier continues to underpin what follows ... Pre-existing space underpins not only durable spatial arrangements, but also representational spaces and their attendant imagery and mythic narratives.” 13 likes
“In the beginning was the Topos. Before – long before – the advent of the Logos, in the chiaroscuro realm of primitive life, lived experience already possessed its internal rationality; this experience was producing long before thought space, and spatial thought, began reproducing the projection, explosion, image and orientation of the body.” 2 likes
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