Capital and Space

Tools, machines, and other types of means of production are considered to be capital in many conventional economic geography texts. In this view, capital is not only a tangible thing but also a transhistorical thing. In a slightly more general view, capital is defined as any incomegenerating asset that generates some benefit, including income. Using capital metaphorically, scholars talk about natural capital, produced capital (means of production produced by human activity), human capital, social capital, and cultural capital. Although in this view, social relations are included in the definition of capital (at least in case of social capital), transhistoricality of capital is still implied: for example, relations of reciprocity as a form of capital have always existed.

Like means of production, money as such is wrongly considered by many to be capital. When I spend my money, which I earn by selling my services to my employer, to buy my books, the money I use is not capital. Money has existed before capital. But money 'can' become capital. Indeed, money is capital's first form of appearance. There are two ways of looking at money as capital. When a sum of money is advanced by a merchant or a moneylender to make a profit on it, it can be correctly called capital. Merchant and moneylending/usurer forms of capital appeared earlier than the third form of capital. This form of capital arises when the owner of money lays out money on wages and means of production to produce a new commodity which is sold for more money than what is initially advanced. This view of capital establishes capital's theoretical specificity as a social relation. As Marx says in Capital vol 3: capital is nota thing, it is rather a definite social relation of production between owners of means of production and labor, which simply takes the form of a thing. Means of production are no more capital in themselves than gold as money. They become capital under the relation between capital and labor. Capitalism is a form of society where the capitalas money (investing money as capital to make more money) becomes the dominant relation, and more specifically when the third form of capital becomes (tendentially) the dominant form of capital relation.

Capital can be looked at in terms of capital in general (total capital in the global society or within a country or region) and capitals (as fractions of capital in general), which compete with one another for market, for support from the state, and so on. Capital in general appears as, and is reproduced through, various fractions of capital competing with one another, including those that are based in specific spaces (e.g., regional scale capitalist in a country).

The remainder of the discussion is divided into five parts. First, we explain how capital in the sphere of production works, and in particular the relation between capital and labor. Then capital's space, both in terms of its normal workings and in terms of the crisis situation, is discussed. Subsequently, we discusse capital's space in the sphere of consumption. The discussion finally is summarized and some (understressed) points for further reflection are raised.

How Does Capital Work?: Mechanisms of Capital

Capital and Space: Capital's 'Normal' Spatiality

Capital and Space: Capital's Crisis-Spatiality

Capital's Consumption Spatiality