Limits of Limits to Capital: Understanding the Rise of Real Estate Sector in the Late Comer Context on its Own Dynamism

Havva Ezgi Dogru


Historical-materialist geography has made a remarkable contribution to the ways in which the real estate market and its relation to capital accumulation is theorized. Importantly, the concept of the ‘production of space’ has shown how the temporary crises of the capitalism could be resolved through a capital switching approach. Capital switching was one of Harvey’s path-breaking theoretical intervention, which claimed that the tendency toward over-accumulation within the primary circuit is temporally solved by switching capital flows into the secondary circuit. This major tendency became a source of inspiration for various Marxian geographers to formulate different concepts in order to develop bridges between capital accumulation and production of urban space; ideas such as ‘creative destruction’ (Harvey 2006), ‘spatial fix’ (Glassman 2007), ‘scalar fix’ (Brenner 1998), ‘uneven development’ (Smith 1990), ‘accumulation by dispossession’ (Harvey 2003).

These conceptual frameworks have become dominant tool kits to explain the contemporary rise of the real estate sector in the global South. Although these contributions are ground breaking in terms of holistically approaching capital accumulation in general and real estate in particular, I claim that they set limits to understand the increasing dominance of the real estate sector in the global South. As long as the housing sector in the late comers is approached in relation with the over-accumulation crises of the global north, the authoritarian increase in the dominance of real estate sector emerges as just an epiphenomenal result of the capital accumulation rhythms of the developed countries.

In order to understand the mysterious rise of the real estate sector in the context of late comer countries, this paper does not search for a cyclical relationship between two different circuits even though it accepts the structural relationship between the built environment and capital accumulation, in general. Instead, based on the theory of the primacy of inner relations (Poulantzas 1976), I am approaching the formation of the relatively autonomous national housing market and the state’s different institutional forms in relation with different phases of capital accumulation in the Turkish context. In order to accomplish that aim, the formation of the housing as a commodity with its three circuits is analyzed in relation with Turkish state’s institutional intervention into the sector. Based on my eight months of fieldwork in Turkey, the main fractions of the housing sector and their mutually constitutive and contradictory relationship with the Turkish state is mapped out to rescue the expansion of the real estate sector as an epiphenomenon of the over-accumulation crises of the North and to approach the issue in relation with its dynamic and destructive interactions with the transformation of the social relations as a whole.

limits to capital - historical-materialist geography - Turkey - Real estate sector