Author:Marc Morell (University of Bergen)
Paper short abstract:
By looking into the accumulation by dispossession found in gentrification, I extend the rent-gap hypothesis to the production as a totality of the city. The city is thereby taken as a spatial fix for the global crisis that requires a class relation based on the incorporation of anti-systemic groups.
Paper long abstract:
With his proposal of a rent-gap theory, Neil Smith developed a materialist explanation for gentrification that contended with individual consumer preference tenets by focusing on the cycles of capital's disinvestment and reinvestment in the built environment, always mediated by forms of collective social action. By drawing lessons from the class insights found in the oeuvre of Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey, and from my own field research, most of which took place in Majorca, I extend the rent-gap hypothesis from gentrification to the production as a totality of the city. This approach takes the city to be a vehicle of accumulation of capital that works as a spatial fix for the global crisis as well as a conflictive site of social reproduction that requires a class relation of creation and appropriation of value based on the incorporation of distinctive anti-systemic groups for each of the moments of disinvestment and reinvestment. These groups are bearers of particular class interests that are unaware of cooperating in a same value-production chain; one that thanks to what I come to call their «urban labour» generates surplus for others. I contend that for the production as a totality of the city to come to a profitable closure, there is a need to keep as wide open as possible the class gap among the different anti-systemic groups. Against the description of the spatialisation of classes that are already formed, there is a need to explain how spatialisation intervenes in the urban struggle that makes them.
Systemic crisis, anti-systemic movements: marxist approaches to capitalist restructuring and social reproduction in contemporary global scenarios of movement and stability