Simon Parker: The Urban Revolution and the Theory and Practice of Urban Socialism: Reflections on Henri Lefebvre's La Révolution Urbaine 50 Years On

An abstract collage of multiple buildings.

French Edition of Lefebvre's Urban Revolution. image / Gallimard

Simon Parker is a senior lecturer in politics and former director of the School of Social and Political Sciences, codirector of the Centre for Urban Studies, and cochair of the Migration Network at the University of York, UK. He was the principal investigator for the Economic and Social Research Council–funded project, "Precarious Trajectories: Understanding the Human Cost of the Migrant Crisis in the Central Mediterranean." His books include Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge, 2004 and 2015 second edition) and Cities, Politics and Power (Routledge, 2011). Parker is a member of the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), CITY, and former editor of IJURR's Debates and Developments section. He has held visiting professorships at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver; the University of Manchester; and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published numerous chapters and articles on urban and regional governance and politics in Europe and North America and he has written for openDemocracy, The Guardian, Die Welt, and Le Monde Diplomatique.


Since the 1990s, academic planning scholars have begun to notice and value Henri Lefebvre's contribution to a whole range of urban problems and challenges, ranging from governance and urban design to city management and the law. As we approach the 50th anniversary of Lefebvre's landmark The Urban Revolution (1970), in this paper Parker attempts a critique of the book's legacy not only as an important contribution to radical spatial theory but as an intervention in the debate as to how cities could and should be experienced and planned. In this presentation, Parker returns to the concept of Lefebvre's "Right to the City" as a unifying idea that a number of urban administrations have sought to translate into progressive policy goals, and highlights some of the successes and limitations of a Lefebvrian urban politics.

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