Volume 22, Issue 1 (2018)                   MJSP 2018, 22(1): 22-52 | Back to browse issues page

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Dadashpoor H, Rafieian M, Haqjou M R. Necessity of Using "Rationality" in Urban Strategic Spatial Planning. MJSP 2018; 22 (1) :22-52
URL: http://hsmsp.modares.ac.ir/article-21-14015-en.html
1- Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Tarbiat Modares University
2- Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Tarbbiat Modares University
3- Urban planning department, Faculty of Art and Architecture, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran
Abstract:   (9501 Views)
“Rationality” is one of the most influencing epistemological frameworks in urban planning, though this concept is criticized and denied by post-modernist advocates. The critics believe that it is the “post-rationality” era in urban planning. Furthermore, the concept of rationality has become a negative concept as it has been taken synonymous with an uncompromising technical and professional superiority. According to critics, rationality ignores the other types of knowledge - such as subjective impressions, common sense, social and human values, intuitions and so on – and only justify positivism and value - free knowledge. These criticisms might be due to decreasing the concept of “rationality” to “instrumental rationality”, while there is a variety of concepts of rationality which are different from each other.
 This article tries to focus on and develop the necessity and importance of the dialectical challenge amid theory and practice in urban planning. This is done by addressing the stereotypes about the concept and application of “rationality” in urban planning” and the doubts which have led to its denial through 1) clarifying more deeply the definition of the concept of rationality; 2) tracing its chronological and conceptual evolution; and 3) dissecting its influences upon the theories and approaches urban planning. The first two are exploratory- descriptive purposes and the third one is descriptive- analytical purpose of this article.
To achieve the mentioned purposes of this article, the theoretical, experimental, and technical frameworks which are related to the concept of “rationality” has been examined. This article is based on a descriptive-explanatory research and the related text data has been analyzed by the “chronological analysis” method within “qualitative approach” to address the questions of “why”, “how”, “where” and “when”. Furthermore, in this article “thematic analysis method” is being used to trace the themes or repeating pattern in the data sets to describe the research question. By recognition of important and critical events in chronological continuum of the related concepts of the research, this article does not focus on dialectical relationship between knowledge. The methods used to collect and analysis the data within suggested process in the article are included: a) data collection and processing: the data used in this article are secondary data and the method of collecting this data is document review which consist of related data in valid and reliable books and articles; b) data analysis: there is a dual path to analysis the data in this article. In exploratory- descriptive path, it has been traced the theories, concepts and global experiments related to the concept of rationality in urban spatial strategic planning. The output of this path is recognition of the criteria of rationality and irrationality. In descriptive- analytical path, in order to address the third question of the research, this article tries to propose a framework to connect the urban planning approach to different types of rationality to upgrade the actions and interactions of planning.
Results and Discussion
The chronological evolution of rationality in planning and its effect on planning approach can be discussed within five periods: in the first period, rationality as a pure reason was seen in comprehensive planning. The focus of planning in this period was on “the best action” to achieve the goals set by the employers. It was assumed the needed resources for planning are unlimited and accessible and planners were a value – free technocrat. In the second period, rationality was still introduced as pure reason and the rational comprehensive planning focused on choosing “efficient action” to face the “planning problems”. The main assumption in this period was the existence of unlimited time and resources for problem finding. In the third period, the limitations of time and data resources in planning were been recognized by a planner. Two dominant approaches were identifiable in this period: a) the approaches based on “substantive rationality”: in these approaches, planner as savior tried to do “justly action” to address “plural values” in society. Therefore, while these approaches were concerned about the “ends” and being justly and fair, they were based on substantive rationality; and b) the approaches based on “formal or functional rationality”: the other planning approaches were interested in mutual consensus between the groups with opposite interest - without caring about the quality of the decisions made by these consensus. So, in these approaches the main actors of planning were interest group and not planners. Fourth period was the period of maturity of rationality concept in planning. In this period substantive and formal rationality were dominant concepts and the “communicating rationality” was introduced. The main purpose of the dominant approaches in this period was focusing on efficient, fair and justly and collective action to tolerate the less defeat and face the uncertainties. In the fifth period the communication rationality is the dominant in planning. The approaches based on this concept are concerned about interactions - not actions -. The main purpose of planning in this period is to achieve to not just a “consensus”, but a “consensus based on a mutual understanding”.
The output of this article was a conceptual model in order to show the typology of rationality and their evolution; tracing their influence on urban planning approaches; and explaining the necessity of this concept in strategic spatial planning. Finally the deterrent of using rationality in urban strategic spatial planning could be introduced as: first) the absence of a legal prescribed agenda for the institution which are engaged in urban planning process; second) the epistemological, eclecticism, and political gaps in urban planning and the absence of an agreed definition of strategic spatial planning based of rational thinking; and third) negligence in adaptation underlying economic and political traditions, epistemological foundations and theories and approaches use in planning action and practice.
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Subject: Earth-Surface Processes
Received: 2017/08/26 | Accepted: 2018/01/26 | Published: 2018/04/15

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