Uneven Development by Neil Smith

Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space by Neil Smith is a seminal work in marxist geography first published in 1984. He and David Harvey were two of the great interpreters of Marx and geography during the 1980s and are still active today.

Nature and space are, according to Smith, produced through social interactions and altered, over time, by the development of capitalism. The developmental story is the standard one found in Marx, starting with the use of nature to fulfill human needs, the gradual accumulation of surplus value from nature, and the eventual arrival of capitalism, which extends accumulation into a worldwide phenomenon.

The production of space is accomplished through the division of labor. Different classes work in different locations producing social divisions and differential rewards. The earliest example of this is the division between town and country or the separation of agricultural labor from industry.

Capitalism accelerates the process of differentiation between locations, splitting labor up into increasingly specialized pieces. So one country may become the supplier of a key natural resource at one scale, and, at a smaller scale, the assembly of one part of a car is separated from another part of the same factory. At the same time there is a drive toward equalization and the spread of capitalist production throughout the world and into all the spaces of nature.

The impact of the book has been broad, including geography, environmental sociology, and development theory.