Henri Lefebvre on the Bourgeois Family Model and Production of Space

Authors: Sinead Petrasek*, University of Toronto
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: Lefebvre, bourgeois family, housing, production of space, social reproduction
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 13
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While many scholars will be familiar with Henri Lefebvre’s praxis-oriented historical materialism, there has been less attention paid to his studies of housing undertaken with architects, urbanists and planners in the 1960s-70s (Stanek, 2011). Łukasz Stanek is one of the few to consider Lefebvre’s theorization of the production of space in relation to proposals for dwelling and the restructuring of the family.

Lefebvre saw private family life as intricately related to a broader trend of ‘privatization’ in society, having a bridging effect between the level of everyday life and that of the state. In this way, examining the family and the private home was central to a critique of everyday life under state capitalism in the mid-twentieth century.

This paper will examine Lefebvre’s writing on the family as a social, political and economic unit, primarily within Critique of Everyday Life (2014/1947), and contextualize this with respect to Lefebvre’s more well-known urban geographic concepts of everyday life, alienation, and production of space. In addition, I will compare Lefebvre’s assessment of the bourgeois family with that of Marx and Engels, drawing on The Housing Question (1872), as well as Heather A. Brown’s work on Marx on Gender and the Family (2012).

In recuperating Lefebvre’s insights on the family, I hope to contribute to current dialogues on housing, social reproduction, and neoliberalism within critical geography.

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