Theoretical Framework II_David Harvey_Social Justice and the City

Social Justice and the Cityharvey_david

In this book, David Harvey’s reading of city is based on Marxism theory, and is an object of the analysis of this theory within the city. He sought to reject the narrow morphological character in urban studies discipline, its radical separation of fact and vale, its obsession with problems of data and measurement, and its fragmentary qualities.

This book redefined the objects of urban analysis. It sought to demonstrate how it was possible to bring social processes and spatial forms together analytically and to show their interpenetration. Spatial forms incorporate social processes, and all social processes are inherently spatial, and they are all under the dominant mode of production.

Harvey also engaged a series of works by Henri Lefebvre since they reinvigorated an urban conversation within Marxism. Though inspired by Lefebvre, Harvey rejected completely the independent determinative qualities Lefebvre attributed to spatial relations. For Harvey, space is not an ontological category, but is a social dimension that both shapes and is shaped by human agency: “Spatial forms are seen not as inanimate objects within which the social process unfolds, but as things which ‘contain’ social processes in the same manner that social processes are spatial.” (Harvey, 1988)

My reading of Hanoi is inspired by Harvey’s concept of urbanism as a social form and the city as a built form. I try to understand the urban space of Hanoi by looking at the state-society relations, property relations and relationships between social processes and spatial forms.



Harvey, David. Social justice and the city. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.

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