Marxist geography

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Marxist geography is a strand of critical geography that uses the theories and philosophy of Marxism to examine the spatial relations of human geography. In Marxist geography, the relations that geography has traditionally analyzed — natural environment and spatial relations — are reviewed as outcomes of the mode of material production. To fully understand geographical relations, on this view, the social structure must also be examined. Marxist geography attempts to change the basic structure of society.[1]


Marxism is usually taken to mean the ideas of Marx and Engels, revolutionary socialists such as Lenin and Trotsky and later thinkers building on Marx, such as Gramsci. Marxist geography is the Marxist examination of society 'from the vantage point of space, place, scale and human transformation of nature'. Marxist geographers argue that incorporating Marxist thinking into Geography enriches geographical thinking.[2]


Marxist geography is radical in nature and its primary criticism of the positivist spatial science centered on the latter's methodologies, which failed to consider the characteristics of capitalism and abuse that underlie socio-spatial arrangements. As such, early Marxist geographers were explicitly political in advocating for social change and activism; they sought, through application of geographical analysis of social problems, to alleviate poverty and exploitation in capitalist societies.[3] Marxist geography makes exegetical claims regarding how the deep-seated structures of capitalism act as a determinant and a constraint to human agency. Most of these ideas were developed in the early 1970s by dissatisfied quantitative geographers; David Harvey is generally regarded as the primary trail-blazer of the Marxist movement in human geography.

In order to accomplish such philosophical aims, these geographers rely heavily upon Marxist social and economic theory, drawing on Marxian economics and the methods of historical materialism to tease out the manner in which the means of production control human spatial distribution in capitalist structures. Marx is also invoked to examine how spatial relationships are affected by class. The emphasis is on structure and structural mechanisms.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peet, J. Richard (1985). "An Introduction to Marxist Geography". Journal of Geography. 84 (1): 5–10. doi:10.1080/00221348508979261.
  2. ^ Das, Raju J (March 2022). "What is Marxist geography today, or what is left of Marxist geography?". Human Geography. 15 (1): 33–44. doi:10.1177/19427786211049757. ISSN 1942-7786.
  3. ^ Harvey, David. 1973. "Social Justice and the City"