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Henri Lefebvre - Essay Example

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Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) was a French philosopher once connected with the Parti Communiste Francais who wrote several influential works on the nature of the city and the role of spaces in modern geographical thought. Born in the south of France just after the turn of the century, Lefebvre was witness to the "modernization of French everyday life, the industrialization of the economy and sub-urbanisation of its cities…
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Download file to see previous pages These critiques of the city were the basis for Lefebvre's investigation of the cultural construction of stereotypical notions of cities, of nature and of regions" (Shields, 2002). Within his writings, Lefebvre brought attention to the tendency of academia to place too much emphasis upon the classification of studies as being psychology, sociology, archaeology or geography among others, that all had as their end goal a study and understanding of space and other human geography issues.
In analysing city life, Lefebvre argued 'everydayness' or banality is a soul-destroying feature of modernity and extended Marx's analysis of this concept by discovering new forms of alienation within the city. According to this view, consumption is part of the result of a failure to recognize this alienated state on the part of the modern consumer, which Lefebvre called the 'mystification' of consciousness (Shields, 2002). This early work influenced Walter Benjamin's Marxist analysis of culture as well as reflecting Le Bon's work on crowds and the furtherance of psycho-geography.
In discussing space, Lefebvre delineated three key components of the urban lifestyle. These components include the perceived space of everyday social life that was predominantly ignored by professional life, the conceived space of cartographers and planners who work to segregate portions of land out to particular private owners within the capitalistic society, and lived space which exists in the imagination of the fully human individual who keeps it alive through accessibility to the arts and humanities. "This 'third' space not only transcends but has the power to refigure the balance of popular 'perceived space' and the 'conceived space' of arrogant professionals and greedy capitalists" (Shields, 2002). This conceptual space, as opposed to material space, is considered by Lefebvre to be of much greater significance to the shaping of the individual as is shown in the comment: "space as directly lived through its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of 'inhabitants' and 'users'... This is the dominated...space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate.
In terms of organized society, Lefebvre indicated this conscious awareness of these representational spaces as illuminated through art and the humanities was the only way in which Utopia could be reached. Within the French society of the interwar period, Lefebvre pointed to the dystopian malaise of his fellow countrymen as they struggled through periods of famine and industrial transition as well as the later society in which the urban landscape changed the rural nature of his homeland to develop his rhythm analysis. Through this analysis of the 'everyday' life of the city, Lefebvre indicates that the increases in speed seen through our advances in technology have quickened the tempo of the 'everyday', making it harder to keep up with both the changing rhythms of the city as well as the changing dynamics of the individual within that city.
This model of modern concrete spaces and their interrelationship with the conceptual interior spaces that have been defined within the modern context have helped human geographers to further ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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