Introduction to Feminist Urban Studies

7. Critiques of masculinist urban spatial epistemologies

Feminist scholars have critiqued the work of leading urban scholars, including, the Chicago School (including, Ernest Burgess, Robert Park), Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, Manuel Castells, and Neil Brenner and Christian Schmidt, for issues such as, focusing on men’s lives in cities, failing to mention gender in their analysis, reducing class to being determined by production, viewing the urban as a unit of consumption, failing to mention agency.

Feminist critiques mostly focused on bringing women and the concept of social reproduction as being central to understanding urbanization and urban place making.

Social reproduction: “Reproduction has biological and social dimensions, the latter incorporating three aspects: the reproduction of labor, which includes the production of people, involving their biological production, care of children and their socialization, as well as maintenance of adults throughout their lives and over generations; human reproduction centering on marriage and kinship and thus issues of the social organization of fertility and sexuality; and “the daily and long-term reproduction of the means of production, and the social relations that hold them in place” (Katz, 2017; Kofman, 2017).


Feminist scholars argue that social reproduction as an ‘object of knowledge’ gives us a fundamentally different way of knowing the urban and the planet, a different way of understanding not only how urbanization is resisted, but reorganized.

Feminist scholars argue that we are in a crisis of social reproduction.

This crisis can be seen in relation to factors such as debt, inadequate health care, education and housing. The crisis in social reproduction in characterised by an era marked by the insecurity and informality of production, dispossession, indebtedness, the privatisation / criminalisation of poverty, the criminalisation of citizens, discourses of terror that enable the invasion of surveillance technologies into our lives and swathes of populations are rendered as  security concerns.



Peake, L. Patrick, D., Reddy, RN., Tanyildiz, GS., Ruddick, S., Tchoukaleyska. R. 2018. Placing planetary urbanization in other fields of vision. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36 (3): 374-386.

Ruddick, S.,  Peake, L., Tanyildiz, GS., Patrick. D., 2017. Planetary urbanization: An urban theory for our time? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36 (3): 387-404.