Uneven Development

Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space

a foreword by David Harvey
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Uneven Development
    Book Description:

    In Uneven Development, a classic in its field, Neil Smith offers the first full theory of uneven geographical development, entwining theories of space and nature with a critique of capitalist development. Featuring pathbreaking analyses of the production of nature and the politics of scale, Smith's work anticipated many of the uneven contours that now mark neoliberal globalization. This third edition features an afterword updating the analysis for the present day.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3590-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    David Harvey

    THE REPUBLICATION of Neil Smith’s Uneven Development is cause for celebration on two counts. First, the book pioneered a wholly new approach to uneven geographical development at a historical moment when the collision of Marxian theorizing and geographical thinking was in its incipient but most fruitful and illuminating phase. It took someone with Smith’s deep knowledge of and passionate commitment to both Marxian and geographical theory to pull off the merger of two so very different modes of thinking with such insight and panache. What Smith ended up doing, in effect, was to take seriously Lefebvre’s assertion that capitalism has...

  4. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Neil Smith
  5. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xv-xx)
    Neil Smith
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    THIS BOOK IS ABOUT the geography of politics and the politics of geography. It therefore attempts to integrate two intellectual traditions which until very recently have enjoyed little serious cross-fertilization. If the work is theoretical in substance and exposition, it is quite immediate in motivation. For one can hardly look at the world today without perceiving that, at the hands of capital, the last two decades have witnessed an emergent restructuring of geographical space more dramatic than any before. Deindustrialization and regional decline, gentrification and extrametropolitan growth, the industrialization of the Third World and a new international division of labor,...

  7. CHAPTER ONE The Ideology of Nature
    (pp. 10-48)

    MORE THAN ANY OTHER identifiable experience, the emergence of industrial capitalism is responsible for setting contemporary views and visions of nature. For apologist and detractor alike, the global transformation of nature wrought by industrial capitalism dominates both the physical and intellectual consumption of nature. This experience filters out old, incompatible conceptions of nature and precipitates new ones. The domination of nature is a generally accepted reality, whether it is viewed in awe as a measure of human progress or in fear as a tragic warning of imminent disaster. Where some anticipate “that a total control of nature is possible in...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Production of Nature
    (pp. 49-91)

    “SCIENTIFIC TRUTH,” Marx wrote in a famous statement, “is always paradox, if judged by everyday experience, which catches only the delusive appearance of things.”¹ The idea of the production of nature is indeed paradoxical, to the point of sounding absurd, if judged by the superficial appearance of nature even in capitalist society. Nature is generally seen as precisely that which cannot be produced; it is the antithesis of human productive activity. In its most immediate appearance, the natural landscape presents itself to us as the material substratum of daily life, the realm of use-values rather than exchange-values. As such it...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Production of Space
    (pp. 92-131)

    UNLESS SPACE is conceptualized as a quite separate reality from nature, the production of space is a logical corollary of the production of nature. Several assumptions would be required concerning the meaning of space and the relationship between space and nature, but the argument demonstrating the production of space would be fairly straightforward. The problem of course lies in the assumptions because not unlike “nature” the concept of space tends to be taken for granted, its meaning unproblematic, while in fact it is a vague concept with a multiplicity of sometimes contradictory meanings. No matter the critical stance we take...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Toward a Theory of Uneven Development I: The Dialectic of Geographical Differentiation and Equalization
    (pp. 132-174)

    IN LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE, the uneven development of capitalism has become a popular even fashionable topic for research. The reason for this undoubtedly has to do with the general resurgence of interest in marxism following the social uprisings of the 1960s, and the fact that today the process of uneven development presents itself in more vivid detail at all spatial scales than in any previous period. There is virtual consensus concerning the necessity of understanding this seemingly recent phenomenon and a rapidly growing literature on the subject has already begun to appear. To date, however, this new research...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE: Toward a Theory of Uneven Development II: Spatial Scale and the Seesaw of Capital
    (pp. 175-205)

    IF THE DIALECTIC of geographical differentiation and equalization is ultimately responsible for the pattern of uneven development, it does not on its own completely specify the process. Two questions arise: first, why does this dialectic not simply result in a static disparity in levels of development, rather than a dynamic pattern of uneven development? Second, at what scales does this dialectic operate and how are these scales themselves derived? We shall look at these questions in turn. Beginning with the question of spatial equilibrium, we return to Harvey’s analysis.

    Locational advantage should be considered like technological innovation as a source...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Conclusion: The Restructuring of Capital?
    (pp. 206-212)

    UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT is both the product and the geographical premise of capitalist development. As product, the pattern is highly visible in landscapes of capitalism as the difference between developed and underdeveloped spaces at different scales: the developed and the underdeveloped world, developed regions and declining regions, suburbs and the inner city. As the premise of further capitalist expansion, uneven development can be comprehended only by means of a theoretical analysis of the capitalist production of nature and space. Uneven development is social inequality blazoned into the geographical landscape, and it is simultaneously the exploitation of that geographical unevenness for certain...

  13. Afterword to the Second Edition The Beginning of Geography
    (pp. 213-238)
    Neil Smith

    In his history of the “discovery” of geological time, Stephen Jay Gould refers to James Hutton’s famous conclusion—“no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end”—as the most significant single announcement of what he calls, in John McPhee’s ponderous phrase, “deep time.” Whereas, in the seventeenth century, discovered time stretched a mere six thousand years into the past, by the beginning of the nineteenth century a scientific consciousness of time stretched millions of years. “Deep time is so alien,” Gould tells us, “that we can really only comprehend it as a metaphor.” He recounts the metaphor of...

  14. Afterword to the Third Edition
    (pp. 239-266)
    Neil Smith

    IN THE QUARTER CENTURY since Uneven Development was written, capitalism and its geography have changed dramatically. Globalization, the computerization of everyday life for many, the implosion of state socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, reassertion of religion in world politics, the unprecedented industrial revolution in East Asia and the accompanying capitalization of China, the anti-globalization and world social justice movements, global warming, the generalization of gentrification as global urban policy, the rise of biotechnology, the neoliberal state, U.S.-led war for global hegemony under the guise of a war on terror: these and many other developments have fundamentally altered...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 267-294)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-306)
  17. Index
    (pp. 307-323)