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Slums To Primitive Accumulation

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How Can We Relate Slums To Primitive Accumulation?




Slums are becoming an increase and ominous, prevalent form of the human settlement (Basu and Chandra, 2017). Their appearance as well as their constitution could vary extensively when it comes to the global context, but they are least one thing in common which is; they manifest a severe as well as an acute failure when it comes to the planning and the organization of the human habitats (Basu and Chandra, 2017). This failure is characterized by dreary livelihoods to hundreds of millions of urban residents around the globe. Historically the slums they have existed in different forms since the 16th Century, although the poor urban areas have existed ever since the development of the cities. Today, there is an increase in the number of individuals who seek refuge as well as opportunities in the cities.  The cities and the urbanities they have shown to be organizationally incapable to deal with these new residents. It is also important to note that the forced evictions and the removal of the slum residents has been two ways to deal with the issues whereas currently, upgrading in the slum is prevailing strategy. Nonetheless, the upgrade in the slum is not sufficient solution to this problem since it is a reactive rather than a proactive strategy. For a long time there has been discussion when it comes to the urbanization of the poverty (Bhattacharya, 2010). In the final decade, the dispossession of the land grew to be unprecedentedly central to the political overall economy (Bhattacharya, 2010). There have been countless people who were disposed of their land in the certain the state led development. The scale of the land dispossession has enhanced since liberation of numerous countries. This is a pressing need to comprehend this conjuncture (Bhattacharya, 2010). This essay would certainly argue however, that pre-existing theoretical perspective, whether Marx’s primitive accumulation or possibly the Harvey’s accumulation by dispossession are not adequate to acknowledge the relationship between land dispossession and capitalism. In this essay it will highlight how we could relate slums to the primitive accumulation. To address this aspect the essay will engage with the subject issues and themes in the discussion.


Theorists view on primitive accumulation

It is important that the case of slum has several primary implications to the contemporary concepts of dispossession. The initial is on the problematic Sanyal (2014), which is capital centric theory for the accumulation by dispossession. This theory treats enclosure as a fix to the capital inherent inclination in over accumulating, and at the same time include the empirical support to modern closure that happen to be a response in relation to limiting of the capital posed by the common methods particularly in the working class (Sanyal, 2014). The next is on the primitive accumulation within this context it varies from the classic kind of the primitive accumulation that is described by Marx (1976). It is depending on the grounds of expulsion of disposed rather incorporation to the capital connection as the labor power.

According to Marx (1976), originally discussed primitive accumulation as the traditional phase at the outset of the capitalist advancement, wherein extra-economic force was used to produce situations essential for accumulation appropriate common wealth- for example land into private capital. Furthermore, it argued it involves generation of a supply of labor via progression of landless proletariat separated from the historical way to subsistence. Furthermore, theorist argued that primitive accumulation is regarded as the perennial aspect to the capitalist development and silent compulsion of the forces in the market which remain to perform in the tandem with usage of the extra-economic force which can be found outside the market (Sanyal, 2014).
Whilst the concept might be loved and applied to land grabs many other sociable phenomena which smell of theft and fraud, it is very important identify primitive accumulation, in believe that it obscures greater than it illuminate in relation to contemporary type of land dispossession. In the final chapters of the Volume 1 of the Capital, Marx advanced on the principle to describe on how exactly the origins of the capitalist social relations might lay historical means displacing the producers from the means of the production (Bernards, 2018). Depending on this analysis, Marx argued that bloody and violent technique to expelling peasant from the land generated pre-conditions to the capitalism via impact of two transformations, wherein social method of the subsistence and production are turned into capital and producers are developed into the wage laborers.
It is very important recognize that there have been ambiguity on the Marx own perception of the primitive accumulation (Hendriks, Ponsaers and Mulamba, 2013). On the facet of capital it offers an origin story how the pre-condition for the capital came into the being. In a similar sense the primitive accumulation have been described in the functionality to the progression of the capitalism (Bernards, 2018). It is the traditional processes which establish the capitalist social relations. In the same perception the Marx theory of the primitive accumulation does misunderstanding to make several distinction between those processes which gave ascend to the capitalist method of the production (Rodgers, 2005). The urban theorists have attempted to evaluate the facets of accumulation by dispossession to the urban scale by talking about processes of gentrification and the displacement with regards to enclosure to the urban common. Nevertheless, the extant research on urban enclosure has majored on the experiences in the slums. This accompanies a current call to shift the focus of urban theory from the slum parts that are marginalized.


Informal proletarianisation and slum commoning

Following the decades of the rural-urban migration to the cities there are been development of slums which is not home to massive informal proletariats that is ruled out from the informal wages labor and housing market in the city (Bernards, 2018). This population has arrived at the concentration of the cities as a result of the separation of the non-urban peasants from the land perhaps directly via erosion to the communal tenure by the facet of the market factors or indirectly via the underdevelopment of the countryside (Bernards, 2018). These types of accumulations by dispossession have experienced their origins in the colonial economy and have intensified since 80s. In Europe at the dawn of the capitalism proletarianised people appeared to be forced off the land and into the mills and the factories (Bernards, 2018). The facet of industrialization has not been sufficient to take in the migrants flooding into cities of a country. Because of the mass retrenchment to the public-sector and the formal private sector workers has resulted in structural modification that has led to the prevalent of unemployment which has resulted to numerous residing in the slums.
The marketisation of the housing provision employs a structural modification which has been capable of generate a situation where in the private developers develop high quality housing that are utilized by the wealthy, whilst the masses rely on the poor quality , that are overcrowded informal housing which are present in the slums (Davis, 2006). This result due to lack of the essential services along with infrastructure that result to erratic access to the water and sanitation facilities where the low income informal settlement live.

Accumulation by slum dispossession

The entrepreneurial slum governance should seek to facilitate the private sector development through creation of the opportunities through the valorization of the slums (Davis, 2006). Nonetheless, this is subject to existing patterns to the collective usage by the city working class inhabitants. Traditionally failing outside the regional as well as urban planning, the slum areas are regarded as marginalities, informal enclaves to the perilous margin to the burgeoning city centers (Davis, 2006). There should be sustainable development for the renewed hope and opportunities to overcrowding of the cities. To address on the issue there should be a slum renaissance. This means that there is rebirth or a new start. In this context of the project, it represent the rebirth of the slum communities, but mostly the rebirth of the way we understand on these communities and at the same time integrate them in planning and organizational processes (Willis, 2017). The infrastructural, socio-economic as well as the environment should be rooted to the holistic planning and organization if any results would be achieved.

The accumulation of the slum dispossession is o-produced by the urban ruling class alliance which is between the state and capital. Depending on Willis (2017), highlights that continuous nature of the primitive accumulation as the function to the capital necessitate in locating the geographical fixes to inherent turmoil inclinations , especially to the capital to overaccumulate . Accumulation by dispossession is indicates which capital gives on the aspect that lies outside it , with new rounds to making assets to be available at low cost to generate new possibilities which are profitable to investment (Escobar, 1995). In the frame-work of slum it is possible to claim that the state is compelled to enclose the urban commons to creating a more profitable outlets for the over accumulating the capital to build the environment (Nylund, 2009). Nevertheless , it is very important observe that the capital centric account would not recognize on the political agency of the city dwellers that produce the urban commons and at the same time build limit to the entrepreneurial attempts to valorize urban space . It should be recognized that the reactive response limits the accumulation posed by the rival social force (Mahmud, 2010). The accumulation in the slum dispossession is an ideal response to the constant struggle to the informal proletariat which aims in overcoming these types of obstacles via the enclosure of the urban commons.


Rethinking primitive accumulation

Marx accounts on the primitive accumulation usually deal with the encounter of the European industrial as archetypal (Willis, 2017). It is presumed that the enclosure of the commons is a way to produce a cause of the labor that may be exploited in the capitalist production process. Slum is residence to considerable informal proletariats cope with the experience of the European industrial as archetypal (Gillespie, 2016). It is presumed that the enclosure of the commons is a way to create a supply of the labor which can be exploited in the capitalist production process. Slum is a residence to substantial informal proletariats which have been separated from the land but their labor has not been directly used to the capital (Davis, 2006). Consequently, this surplus population residing in these types of areas is segment to the growing army to the global that have been separated from the land but their labor has not been directly utilized to the capital. Consequently, this surplus population residing in these types of areas is segment to the growing army to the global disposed, and they are excluded from the formal wage labor (Moore, 2015).  It is therefore evident that accumulation by slum dispossession serves as a fundamental difference function to classic form of the primitive accumulation which has been highlighted by Marx (1976).

According to Obeng-Odoom (2010), highlighted that the decongestion exercise in the slum is designed to benefit the capital through creation of the large urban labor surplus and this would keep the income minimal and discipline the workforce with the threat of the joblessness (Goffman, 2009). Nevertheless , this argument ignores the point that the huge industrial reserve individuals currently is present in the urban , and this surplus population is developing a hurdle to the accumulation via popular techniques in the city (Davis, 2006). This author views would not seize on the contradictory role of the surplus labor by accumulation at the urban scale. Irrespective of unemployed industrial reserve as a structural necessity to the accumulation of the capital, it undermines on the urban entrepreneurial techniques intended to entice capital and fix it in place (Goffman, 2009). For the slums the role of accumulation by the urban dispossession, is never to produce surplus labor, but to prevent it from the public spaces and displace it from the inner slum neighborhoods to the urban fridges to ensure existence might not interrupt the circulation of the capital.

Primitive accumulation when it comes to slums requires the sort of expulsion of the unnecessary individuals concurrently delivering the involvement of both the spaces and tools to the circuits of the worldwide capitalism. Escobar (1995), claims that the plunder of the resources instead of the exploitation of the surplus value through the wage relation is the main means to which the wealth is obtained from the poor individuals in the society particularly the ones residing in the slum in urban areas (Escobar,1995). This is contrary to Marx orthodox which accounts the primitive accumulation perceptions the experience of industrial working class as archetypal. Thus the experience of informal working individuals emphasizes how primitive accumulation is not a consistent experience but it has differential effects across the global working class (Ince, 2017). This evidently demonstrates precisely how the Eurocentric concepts of the primitive accumulation ought to re -examined since they travel to different geographical contexts.

The growth and development are essential situations to the reduction of the absolute poverty levels; however they are not adequate (Goffman, 2009). To assist the marginalized and disadvantaged in the slum, people must participant definitely and grow on their own accomplishment (Goffman, 2009). Inequality prevents on the process and threatens on the cultural survival in various means. One way it arrests the growth and development by decline of the social cohesion in addition to increases on the social incapability (Goffman, 2009). You will find economic ramifications that are related to the lack of the social cohesion. There needs to be public investment in the sociable provisions for example education, stress which may not be remote from other elements promoting the development (Doshi, 2013). The astonishing prevalence to the slums is the major theme to the historic and somber report that was released in the UN Human Settlements Programme. The issues of slums are the preliminary global review to the urban poverty. Slums are uncommon to the informative dependability (Moore, 2015). The Washington consensus variations have insisted to ascertain the issue of the global slums much less result to the globalization and inequality but rather on the unpleasant governance (Ince, 2017). The primary direction to the national and global interventions via the last 20 years has developed on the urban poverty and slums that has resulted to the amplified in the exclusion and inequality (Doshi, 2013). This has destabilized on the urban elites in their input to utilize cites as the results for the progress.
Slums neglects to a couple of the crucial land use issues which arises from the super urbanization and the informal settlement, which includes sprawl, environmental degradation and urban hazards (Ince, 2017). Moreover, it falls to structure some lights on processing driven out labor from countryside or perhaps including the large and growing literature in relation to the gender dimensions of urban poverty and informal employment (Mahmud, 2010).


Dealing with the slums and urban poor

Traditional measures aimed at dealing with the slum problem have been proven to be inefficient, short-sighted and even counterproductive (Nylund, 2009). The human values have been de-prioritized in regards to the urban renewal and the conflicts over the valuable urban spaces. The pre understandings as well as the attitudes towards the slums communities and their inhabitants have impacted on the way that the issues at hand are addressed (Doshi, 2013).  There are strategies which have been employed and combined in the last decades to address on the issue of slums. First is neglecting the slums. Until the 70s a negligence techniques dominated on the attitude towards the slums especially in the developing nations. Slums were regarded as an illegal and they were considered as temporary and inevitable issues which could be solved through the national economic development (Doshi, 2013). Simply ignoring on the existence on the slums could seem odd. Today negligence and indifferences have continued to be visible aspects in approaches towards the issues in the slum across the world. This shows a lack of the provision of the public transport, and the services of the social institutions in the slum communities (Walton, 2017). Other ways is through criminalizing of the slums and evicting the slums which are the stereotypes which have been discussed in the criminalization of the slum residents.

Link of slum to primitive accumulation

The primitive original accumulation has depicted on the peaceful process which some of the workers such as those in slum labored more diligently than the others as well as gradually built up the wealth, which leaves less diligent workers to accept living their labor. In the case of the slum, it can be related to the primitive accumulation since there are some individuals there who have labored and they have gradually built themselves some wealth. Moreover, it has been seem how the land of the individuals have been taken and some have been expelled from the resident population in order to create landless proletariat and then these land have been released to the privatized mainstream of accumulation of the capital. In the slum it has been observed the accomplishment of this aspect has been done through the wars, violence and enslavement which have taken place (Moyo, Yeros, Gerais and Horizonte, 2011). The continuation and proliferation of the accumulation procedures that Marx had handled as the primitive or even original all through the surge of the capitalism consists of the commoditization and the privatization of the acreage and persuasive expulsion to the peasant populations. The theorist explores practices that have been incorporated to the continuing evolution of the capitalism and claims that the exploitation of the employees and the extraction of the additional value, it is a basic plunder in the transfer of the wealth from the working class and poor to ruling class. Furthermore, the accumulation mechanism has become central to functional to the capitalism under the neoliberalism.


The relation of the slum to the primitive accumulation defines on the essence of the capitalism as the mode of the accumulation which is simultaneously a system of the domination. Marx own writing in regards to the primitive accumulation have been descriptive compared to systematic. His worry was to display how capitalism deploys the extra force to separate the peasant from the land in addition to change that property and labor into the capital.  In the slum to extra the land of these individuals it is through violence and wars. Moreover, Marx he has highlighted that the capital system once they are created they continue to exploit on the labor by transparent means through appropriation of the labor power which is beyond the labor times that is crucial to the reproduction of the workforce. The capitalist transformation is historically progressive and in the same sense to eliminate slums in the urban would take a lot of development to address on this issue. To some extend primitive accumulation relates to the slums different perspective and this has been clearly addressed in this essay. 



Basu, D. and Chandra, P., 2017. Neoliberalism and Primitive Accumulation in India: The Need to Go Beyond Capital. In Social Movements (pp. 152-166). Routledge India.

Bernards, N. (2018). The Global Governance of Precarity: Primitive Accumulation and the Politics of Irregular Work.

Bhattacharya, R., 2010. Capitalism in post-colonial India: Primitive accumulation under dirigiste and laissez faire regimes. University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Davis, M., 2006. Planet of slums. New Perspectives Quarterly, 23(2), pp.6-11.

Davis, M., 2006. The prevalence of slums. Planet of Slums, pp.21-50.

Doshi, S., 2013. The politics of the evicted: Redevelopment, subjectivity, and difference in Mumbai's slum frontier. Antipode, 45(4), pp.844-865.

Escobar, A., 1995. ``The dispersion of power: tales of food and hunger''. Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ) pp, pp.102-153.

Gillespie, T., 2016. Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41(1), pp.66-77.

Goffman, A., 2009. On the run: Wanted men in a Philadelphia ghetto. American sociological review, 74(3), pp.339-357.

Hendriks, M., Ponsaers, P. and Mulamba Tshondo, J., 2013. Catch me if you can: ambiguities and complexities of street children [bashege] of Kinshasa. In Getting by or getting rich? The formal, informal and criminal economy in a globalized world (pp. 369-388). Eleven Publishers.

Ince, O.U., 2017. Between Equal Rights: Primitive Accumulation and Capital’s Violence. Political Theory, p.0090591717748420.

Levien, M., 2017. From primitive accumulation to regimes of dispossession. The Land Question in India: State, Dispossession, and Capitalist Transition, p.49.

Ince, O.U., 2017. Between Equal Rights: Primitive Accumulation and Capital’s Violence. Political Theory, p.0090591717748420.

Mahmud, T., 2010. Surplus Humanity and the Margins of Legality: Slums, Slumdogs, and Accumulation by Dispossession. Chap. L. Rev., 14, p.1.

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