Harvey, David [entry]

2020 SAGE Research Methods Foundations   unpublished
David Harvey (b. 1935) is perhaps the world's most renowned and influential geographer. He is also among the most prominent Marxists of our time. Harvey's geographical Marxism has had a formative impact on research across a range of social science and humanities disciplines. He is primarily known as a theorist dedicated to revealing the essential elements of capitalism as a mode of producing goods and services. Using a theory presented in his first major book as a Marxist, The Limits to Capital
more » ... (1982), Harvey has subsequently made sense of the real geographies of contemporary capitalism in a series of widely read books, such as A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005). These "big agenda" texts rely on secondary evidence gleaned from diverse sources. Harvey rarely undertakes primary empirical research, nor has he for decades. He is best known for a set of big ideas that he has used to interpret the contemporary world, notably "the spatial fix," "time-space compression," and "accumulation by dispossession." However, his early Marxist writings helped change the fundamental understanding of the nature and aims of methodology in geography, planning, and urban studies. They demonstrated that the evidence researchers deem to be relevant to their inquiries, and thus the methods they employ to "make reality speak," are relative to their ontological assumptions and epistemological suppositions. By encouraging critique of the "tacit philosophy" undergirding the choice and use of certain research methods, Harvey showed that methodology is the servant of fundamental "worldviews," one of which is Marxism. Because these worldviews have political content and political implications, he further showed that methodologies are necessarily implicated in the world as much as they are a means for "getting at" the world. Although not alone in making these arguments, Harvey's critique of positivist methods in the early 1970s had a big effect on research in human geography and urban studies. It encouraged a view of methods less wedded to the scientific axiom of a singular "truth" as the goal of research. This view remains profoundly relevant to the choice and use of research methods in social science. This entry focuses on Harvey's turn to Marxism in the 1970s and summarises his arguments about methodology, pointing to their wider implications.
doi:10.4135/9781526421036794910 fatcat:bs76lj6soff35o4b4fzj534idu