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State or Citizens? Who is to Plan our Cities?   

2007-03-13 11:10:14|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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In his writing Friedmann describes our society as one driven by market rationalism in which the state intervenes to various degrees to counteract the negative externalities produced by market rationalism such as inequality and environmental damage to the extent by which this backed up by a political base of citizens (and voters). Within this model planning is then defined as the "attempt to link scientific and technical knowledge to actions in the public domain" (pg. 38). This definition is further broken down into two parts aimed either at societal guidance on behalf of the state or social transformation in the hands of various groups and actors. These two subsets of the original definition are posed as oppositional forces in conflict with each other (p. 38). However, might we not find forces less extreme operating in society today in the forms of NGO's, non-profits, and other community groups that wish to carry out planning but who do not wish to change the system itself, but merely influence the state along the same lines of societal guidance that the state pursues according to Friedmann's model. In short, if we are to use Friedmann's model, which is highly informative, but assume that not all non governmental groups want to change the system itself, it begs the questions: is everything we do as "planners from below" i.e. as citizens, community groups etc. done so that ultimately the state can do if for us? Are groups working with nature restoration, needle-exchange, or literacy campaigns hoping that their work will eventually lead to a change in government practice (and expenditure) so that the state will take on their work? If so, where does that lead us? It would seem that bringing much of the work done by community groups into the hands of the state would on the one hand give the cause more executive power, but simultaneously, it would loose valued elements of direct democracy and more accesible citizen participation and involvement, and most likely add additional bureaucracy.

It is also interesting to consider what this does to the role of the planner not working for the government. Friedmann writes that "it could be argued that actors look to planners for contributions precisely because planners are 'remote' from the action itself." (pg. 46). This leaves the planner as an outsider who leaves once the job is done and leaves little room for broadening our understanding of who is a planner and as well as the process of planning. Are not normal people working on societal issues planners? It also adds definite ends and goals to planning and sees it as less of a continuing process in the hands of people with a long lasting presence in our communities.

If we on the other hand assume that community groups do not want a "remote" planner or the state to take over their work and we follow this train of thought to its extreme we end with a system of direct democracy bordering on (peaceful) anarchism, which in all likelihood will take us full circle to market rationalism. These community groups would then survive by the same mechanism of private donations that allow many NGO's to function today.

The best solution would appear to lie in between the two extreme definitions of planning, which allows the state to do its work as guided by citizens (mainly voters but also through such action as protests) and let community groups work on models they have already set up, with the possibility of the government funding their work or doing part (or even all) of their work where appropriate.

In reality however, campaign contributions from wealthy capital interest skews the idealism of this model, which may very well speak in favor of advocacy planning, but let us leave that for another journal entry.

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