SOCIAL SCIENCE AND PLANNING

G.A. Gutenschwager
 

Abstract

 

PART ONE: SOCIAL SCIENCE: META THEORY AND RESERCH

 

Part One - Prologue

2

1. Positivism and its Discontent

3

Positivism

3

Relativism and Postmodernism

10

2. Phenomenology and Hermeneutics

21

3. (Dialectical) Structuralism

33

Piaget’s Structuralism

35

Giddens’ Structuration Theory

41

Burke’ s Sociodramatic Structuralism

Science and Society

46

54

4. Positivist Research: The Time Budget Study

57

The Time Budget Perspective

57

Time Budget Research and Public Policy

63

Time Budget Research in Athens

65

A Sample of Results from the Results

69

5. The Phenomenology of Social Change

91

Levels of Reality

91

The Social Order: Three modes of Reality

95

A Model for the Study of the Change

Social Change in the Larger Context

98

102

6. The Social Structure of Health and Disease

107

Social Theory and Disease

108

Institutionalization of Disease Risk Behaviour

110

The History of Western Social Formations

111

Disease Risk under Modern Capitalism

113

PART TWO: SCIENTIFIC, SOCIAL AND HUMAN

 

Part Two - Prologue

126

7. Social Structures at the turn of the century

127

Objective Reality at the Turn of the Century

127

Subjective Reality at the Turn of the Century

138

8. Planning Theory at the Turn of the Century

151

Technocratic (Positivist) Planning

152

The Phenomenological Turn

168

The Social Structure of Planning

168

9. Planning a better possible future: the sociodramatic dimension of planning

 

179

The Many Faces of Planning

180

Planning is, In Effect, a Concern for the Future

181

Planners are ‘Inside’ the Present

183

Planners Must Understand How ‘Presents’ and ‘Futures’ are Created and Maintained

 

186

10. Beyond Monetary Values: Planning for Human Needs

193

Maslow’s Developmental Need Hierarchy – Its Use and Abuse

194

Empirical Research on the Needs Hierarchy

202

Need Satisfaction under Capitalism and Socialism

205

Implications for Social Theory and Planning

208

Bibliography

215

 

 

                   

ABSTRACT

When planning in the U.S.A. shifted from a design activity to a technocratic process after World War II, it sought a scientific basis for its new professional approach. The academic climate in the United States at that time would permit no other concept of social science than that inspired by positivism, along with the ontological and epistemological presuppositions that it carried with it from the natural sciences. Subsequent developments, both inside and outside academia, have raised doubts about how sufficient positivism is for comprehending society in all its complexity, especially to the extent that it differs from nature in important respects. This is not to say that positive social science should be abandoned in any sense of the word, but rather that there are important additional dimensions of society that cannot be understood from such a perspective. Thus, borrowing a term from Thomas Kuhn, an attempt is made here to explore the limitations and potential of not only positivism, but also of two other “paradigms”, phenomenology and structuralism, in the hopes that a more comprehensive social scientific basis for planning could be articulated.

Phenomenology addresses important dimensions of society missing in nature, such as consciousness and intention, and attempts to formulate a paradigmatic or meta-theoretical framework for understanding human behavior as not just a succession of facts and events, but as the outcome of thought and purpose. This immediately poses the question as to how consciousness and intention come into being in the absence of a biogenetic program, assuming that human behavior is characterized by the absence of such ultimate determination. Here important social processes, such as habitualization or routinization of behavior, leading to its typification and ultimate institutionalization, come into play, all in a social context that directs this process without determining it in any causal sense. Of importance here is the dialectical relationship that characterizes the association between the individual and the collectivity. The collectivity socializes the individual into its rules and roles, while the individual always may select which of these to accept, which to oppose, and which to doubt, all with potential effects back on that collectivity. There is, therefore, an ambiguity to the social order that postmodernists have observed (and often exaggerated for their own reasons). This gives an uncertainty to many of the positivist explanations of social phenomena, which cannot be washed away with reservations having to do with probability, etc.

The chapter on structuralism explores other dimensions of the social whole, suggesting forms of regulation that also cannot be reduced to mechanistic causal formulations. Here concepts of wholeness (the totality more that a mere sum of the parts), self- regulation and transformation are discussed. When these concepts are formulated in more than static and descriptive terms, they once again raise the question of the dialectic: How is the whole constituted? How do self-regulation and transformation take place? Etc. All the authors discussed here place emphasis upon the structuring process rather than upon structures, as such. That there are isomorphisms, topological, and other mathematical features of structures, etc., is less important than how they have come into being. Piaget bases his discussion on the formation of psychological and intellectual structures. Giddens emphasizes institutionalizing processes, very much like those described by the phenomenologists. Burke finds explanation in the narrative, and more specifically dramatic form, as the master metaphor for understanding how humans create and maintain (or change) social structure.

By placing emphasis on communication as the ‘cause’ of social structuring, we can begin to extend the traditional engineering concept of planning to encompass new insights into its actual role in society. Planning is an intervention in society, as is all social science in a less formal way. Engineers see as their role to control and manipulate. Is this the proper role of planning? If so, in whose interests is society (or nature) to be manipulated and controlled? Can planning simply relax and assume that ‘political processes’ will ensure a democratic formulation of priorities? All scientists and engineers have been under a form of ‘ house arrest’ since the time of Galileo, to a large extent self-imposed (perhaps to avoid the fate of Copernicus). They have made historic compromises, first with the church and now with the hegemonic bourgeoisie, to insure their social benefits and (circumscribed) freedom to pursue their intellectual interests. This ‘attitude toward history (society)’ is self-imposed because it has become institutionalized, i.e., taken for granted. In short, this is a socially constructed form of imprisonment. However, (communicative) planning actions that seek to overstep the bounds of this institutionalized order can be ‘dangerous’. Ôhere is security in political apathy.

Thus, planning as a scientific activity faces a double challenge. First, it must understand its social reality (as differentiated from the reality of nature). Second, it must understand its own role in constituting that socially constructed reality, which is also its object of study. This is not an easy challenge, and it carries planning well beyond its traditionally defined role, both as an academic as well as a professional activity. These boundaries were transgressed briefly in the 1960’s, so there is a glimpse of what could be done. But planning would have to sharpen its understanding, not only of the society into which it is intervening, but also of its own rhetorical resources for intervening in socially and politically responsible ways. The latter will be the concern of the second part of this book on Humanistic Planning.