TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 120-129.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002914

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Capital, Power and Space: Towards an Empirical Research Reassessment of Uneven Geographical Development Theory

CHEN Pinyu   

  1. (School of Geography Science,South China Normal University,Guangzhou 510631,China)
  • Online:2017-01-05 Published:2017-01-05


The regional difference of human civilization makes uneven geographical landscape become a common phenomenon in development process of society. However, under the background of capital globalization era, the capital with its dual attribute of value proliferation and creating civilization may mould the geographic space in the capital movement, which is increasingly obvious about the uneven geographical development. This article reviews and summarizes the framework of uneven geographical development theory about the Western New Marxism Geography and clears up relevant empirical researches at home and abroad, which indicates that the uneven geographical development is associated with Neoliberalism, and the capital, power and space play a key role in the formation of uneven geographical development theory. But, the empirical research findings are different between at home and abroad. It’s distinctly dominated by the accumulation of capital in the Western countries. Through territorial organization, the capital realizes the goal of capital accumulation. In the process of value proliferation and creating civilization, it is the spatial structure of uneven geographical that makes capital flow perpetually. Naturally, uneven geographical development becomes the direct result of capital accumulation. Capitalist space is submitted to the capital logic and the production of space becomes by-product of capital accumulation. In order to solve the problem of over-accumulation of capital, it is a fact that the Neoliberalism ideology dominated by class power service to capital accumulation, it helps to eliminate space barriers so as to prompt production factors to flow freely in a worldwide geographical range. While in China it is formed by the capital logic and state power logic out of the variegated interplay. On the one hand, Chinese market economy system is underdeveloped but deepening. On the other hand, there exists a strong state government with a power intervention, even penetrating to the rules of market operation. In the context of China, development strategies are formulated from top to bottom due to its strong government model. The market-oriented reform, including the way of taking advantage of external capital to start the Chinese economy, bringing in global capital to embed into globalization and starting the internal demand for economic transformation, are carried out within the control scope of the central government. However, capital with its inherent attribute interplays complexly with central government and local government, reflected in the ideology, which actually is the interaction between the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Neoliberalism. At the national scale, central government not only creates free markets but also regulates regional development harmoniously. Capital was used to overcome actually existing uneven development by strategically reproducing uneven development. At the city scale, it is evident that local government has a strong feature of marketization and entrepreneurship and form a growth machine with developers to cater to capital, whose aim is for production accumulation by interregional economic difference and social division of labor inequality. This social and economic phenomenon that local uneven development scales up to the regional will return to central government, resulting in rescaling and reterritorialization. Finally, combined with the latest theoretical trend, this article puts forward the orientation about empirical research. It may provide a new perspective and thought about this theory both in theory and practice so as to deal with Chinese increasingly apparent uneven geographical development.

Key words: uneven geographical development, capital accumulation, Neoliberalism, power, production of space, Marxism Geography