RADICAL CRITIQUES

READING: ON PLANNING THE IDEOLOGY OF PLANNING:
D. HARVEY

The built environment in a capitalistic society is the tool through which social harmony is created. Harvey views the nature of a capitalistic society as a balancing of the conflicting interest between economic factions. A complex web of interrelationships is the economic dynamo that steers ours society, and that dynamo is housed within the built environment which encompasses us. The author, therefore perceives the planner’s role as maintaining and managing the built environment in order to stabilize society and allow for balanced growth by the capitalistic norms and interest.

The author’s primary hypothesis is that capitalistic societies are made up of four distinct economic groups, and each group is vying for their share of the finite resources within the built environment:

i) The class of labourers is the group that sales the labour power as a commodity in exchange of wages. The labour sees the built environment as its means for survival

ii) The capitalists are the entrepreneurial class whose intent is to make profit. The capitalists sees built environment as a means of accumulating capital and as market for their commodities.

iii) The policy makers sees built environment as means to control the density, resources and agglomeration. 

iv) The land stake holders sees built environment as means of ownership from investment.

The author believes that the basic driving force in the continuance of capitalism is the inherent conflict between these factions. The interest of the four groups are constantly pulling for their greatest share of the benefits form built environment. The harmonious balance of the four will result in further investment into the built environment, guaranteeing a continuous flow of production and consumption. But author contends, if one of these groups gains an inordinate share of power or influence, a crisis is the result. These crisis can come in the form of low profits, high unemployment, inflation, idle capital, political chaos or civil unrest.

As a result, it is the role of the government to insure that investment in the built environment is coordinated. The planner, as agent of the government, is therefore responsible for devising the right balance of the three social requirements: private market operations, monopolistic control, and state intervention. The author defines the planners as the ” righter of wrongs”, “corrector of imbalance” and “defender of the public interest”. and believes that these qualities should be used in order to facilitate the furtherance of capitalistic society in a manner in which crises are avoided.

For this to come about, the author concludes, an ideological shift is necessary in the planning profession.  The author argues that the planner should not focused upon one social group,  such as urban poor or squatter settlement, rather planner should become advocate of ideology of capitalism and business of rationality.


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