Urban land rent theory: a regulationist perspective


Whilst real estate capital became a driving force in analyses of urban development, urban land rent theory has made only very limited progress during the past decade. There are a number of reasons for this – such as a weak conceptualization of the role of political agency, for example. Hence, a way out of this relative stagnation, by attempting to systematically develop an integrated view on structure and agency in the context of urban land rent, is offered in this article. Advances in critical theory, thinking about space and dialectic reasoning contribute to the development of a new perspective on land rent. Land rent is conceptualized as a middle‐range theory. In order to bring together concrete urban phenomena with the general process of political‐economic development, a systematic link between land rent theory and the theoretical apparatus of the French Regulation School is developed. The reformulation of land rent theory from a regulationist perspective underlines the importance of the institutional context (and its changes) for an understanding of rent and its role in the urban context. In so doing, land rent theory proves to be a very useful tool for providing an integrated political‐economic perspective for analyses of urban phenomena. This is illustrated briefly in the cases of Vienna and Montevideo.