Henri Lefebvre was one of the most prominent French Marxist intellectuals during the second quarter of the 20th century. He was one of the most respected professors of sociology at the University of Strasbourg and he wrote several influential works on cities, urbanism, and space. During his long career, his work has gone in and out of fashion several times, and has influenced the development not only of philosophy but also of sociology, geography, political science and literary criticism.
Lefebvre is widely recognized as a Marxist thinker who was responsible for widening considerably the scope of Marxist theory, embracing everyday life and the contemporary meanings and implications of the ever expanding reach of the urban in the western world throughout the 20th century. The generalization of industry, and its relation to cities (which is treated in La Pensée marxiste et la ville), The Right to the City and The Urban Revolution were all themes of Lefebvre’s writings. Lefebvre argued that every society – and therefore every mode of production – produces a certain space, its own space. The city of the ancient world cannot be understood as a simple agglomeration of people and things in space – it had its own spatial practice, making its own space . Then if every society produces its own space, any “social existence” aspiring to be or declaring itself to be real, but not producing its own space, would be a strange entity, a very peculiar abstraction incapable of escaping the ideological or even cultural spheres.