Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Right To The City.

Henry Lefebvre - The French Giant.

He was a critic of disciplinary over specialization such as that between economics, geography and sociology, which 'parcelled up' the study of space. He worked on dialectics, alienation, and criticism of Stalinism and structuralism. Lefebvre wrote more than sixty books and three hundred articles.

Lefebvre defined everyday life dialectically as the intersection of "illusion and truth, power and helplessness; the intersection of the sector man controls and the sector he does not control“ and is where the perpetually transformative conflict occurs between diverse, specific rhythms: the body’s polyrhythmic bundles of natural rhythms, physiological (natural) rhythms, and social rhythms. The idea was that through auto critique, people could understand and then revolutionize their everyday lives. This was essential to Lefebvre because everyday life was where he saw capitalism surviving and reproducing itself. Without revolutionizing everyday life, capitalism would continue to diminish the quality of everyday life, and inhibit real self-expression.

Henry Lefebvre (1901-1991)
"Change life! Change Society! These ideas lose completely their meaning without producing an appropriate space. A lesson to be learned from soviet constructivists from the 1920s and 30s, and of their failure, is that new social relations demand a new space, and vice-versa."

Lefebvre’s right to the city is an argument for profoundly reworking both the social relations of capitalism and the current structure of liberal-democratic citizenship. His right to the city is not a suggestion for reform, nor does it envision a fragmented, tactical, or piecemeal resistance. His idea is instead a call for a radical restructuring of social, political, and economic relations, both in the city and beyond.

 Urban space figures are so centrally placed in the ‘Right to the City’, it is important to say a word about Lefebvre’s notion of space. He takes an extremely expansive view that encompasses much more than just concrete space. Lefebvre’s idea of space includes what he calls perceived space, conceived space, and lived space . Perceived space refers to the relatively objective, concrete space people encounter in their daily environment. Conceived space refers to mental constructions of space, creative ideas about and representations of space. Lived space is the complex combination of perceived and conceived space. It represents a person’s actual experience of space in everyday life. Lived space is not just a passive stage on which social life unfolds, but represents a constituent element of social life. Therefore, social relations and lived space are inescapably hinged together in everyday life.
Producing urban space, for Lefebvre, necessarily involves reproducing the social relations that are bound up in it. The production of urban space therefore entails much more than just planning the material space of the city; it involves producing and reproducing all aspects of urban life. For Lefebvre, then, “the right to the city is like a cry and a demand... a transformed and renewed right to urban life.”

 The right to the city involves two principal rights for urban inhabitants: the right to participation, and the right to appropriation.

The right to participation - maintains that citadins should play a central role in any decision that contributes to the production of urban space.

The right to appropriation -  includes the right of inhabitants to physically access, occupy, and use urban space, and so this notion has been the primary focus of those who advocate the right of people to be physically present in the space of the city.
David Harvey described the right to city as : -

‘The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.’

The Right to the City

should modify, concretize and make more practical the
rights of the citizen as an urban dweller (citadin) and
user of multiple services. It would affirm, on the one
hand, the right of users to make known their ideas on
the space and time of their activities in the urban area;
it would also cover the right to the use of the centre, a
privileged place, instead of being dispersed and stuck
into ghettos.

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