Lefebvre emphasized the importance of rhythms, the repetitive, cycles and moments. He provided a detailed reading of how capitalism had increased its scope in the twentieth century to dominate the cultural and social world as well as the economic. The notion of everyday life is immanent to almost all of his work. Alienation under capitalism. The capitalist mode of production established itself in industry and integrated industry. Then, it integrated agriculture, it integrated the historical city, it integrated space, and it produced what is called la vie quotidienne. Alienation can be economic, social, political, ideological and philosophical. It invades everything – literature, art and objects.
Lefebvre talks of three kinds of time:
- free time (leisure time);
- required time (work time)
- constrained time (traveling time, or time for bureaucratic formalities).
His analysis of everyday life is always a critique, as is underlined in the title of the series. It is designed to be a radical questioning of the everyday in contemporary society: industrial and technological society, and so-called “consumer” society’. Lefebvre suggests that everyday life has been ‘colonized’ by new technology and ‘consumer society’.
Just as everyday life has been colonized by capitalism so, too, has its location: social space. However, Lefebvre also wished to put forward a programme for radical change, for a revolution of everyday life, so as to end alienation. To change the world, we must change life. The critique of everyday life that he undertakes has a contribution to make to the art of living, and he believes that the art of living implies the end of alienation.
Understanding Henri Lefebvre
By Stuart Elden