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To clarify the contribution of Marxism to urban studies and to identify the contours of this theoretical approach, it is necessary to begin with the original work of Marx and Engels, before dealing with the more complex issue of how subsequent developments in urban theory and Marxism have overlapped and intertwined. For Marxists, modern cities are capitalist cities, not merely “cities in a capitalist society,” and they are shaped in key respects by the dynamics of capitalist accumulation.

The most important characteristic of the capitalist production process, Marx argued, is the exclusion of the majority of workers from ownership of the means of production, with the result that workers are compelled to sell their labor power in order to survive. Unlike other commodities, labor power ...

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