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ABSTRACT An increasingly rigidifying orthodoxy has begun to emerge within Marxist spatial analysis that threatens to choke off the development of a critical theory of space in its infancy. The concept of a socio-spatial dialectic is introduced as a means of reopening the debate and calling for the explicit incorporation of the social production of space in Marxist analysis as something more than an epiphenomenon. Building upon the works of Henri Lefebvre, Ernest Mandel, and others, a general spatial problematic is identified and discussed within the context of both urban and regional political economy. The spatial problematic is not a substitute for class analysis but it can be an integral and increasingly salient element in class consciousness and class struggle within contemporary capitalism.

Space is not a scientific object removed from ideology and politics; it has always been political and strategic. If space has an air of neutrality and indifference with regard to its contents and thus seems to be “purely” formal, the epitome of rational abstraction, it is precisely because it has been occupied and used, and has already been the focus of past processes whose traces are not always evident on the landscape. Space has been shaped and molded from historical and natural elements, but this has been a political process. Space is political and ideological. It is a product literally filled with ideologies.