African Sociological Review / Revue Africaine de Sociologie

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Capital accumulation, social reproduction and social struggle: rethinking the function of spatial planning and land use

Paul Hendler


This purpose of this paper is to understand the historical impact on urban land usage of ecological, economic and political factors in order to conceptualise strategic ideas for transforming urban land usage currently and in the future to enable social equity, promote the efficient use of resources and sustain the ecologies within which cities and towns are embedded. The paper analyses the historical data through a triangular matrix of capital accumulation, state reproduction and planning strategies and popular movements pressurizing to benefit from demanded land usages. Capital accumulation is viewed as a process through which wealth produced by labour accrues both to owners of capital and managers in the form of unearned value. This insight is particularly important in the current phase of global capitalism, in which financialisation is a dominant form of economic activity and impacts also on the way spaces are planned and used in urban areas for economic gain. Given the contradiction between an exponentially growing economy and finite resources, I take into account limits to growth and incorporate ecological economics’ insights into classical political economy analyses.

Keywords: spatial planning, land use, capital accumulation, social reproduction, ecology

AJOL African Journals Online