Global Futures: Reflections on Culture, Diversity and Planning for the Twenty-first Century

Authored by: Sophie Watson

The Ashgate Research Companion to Planning and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409422242
eBook ISBN: 9781315613390
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042167


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All planning involves imagination and speculation about the future, since there is an inevitable time lag between the conception of the plan and its execution and an even longer period during which the plan has effects, particularly where the plan involves infrastructures and the built environment. Planning is simpler then in periods of social, economic, political and cultural stability, where greater levels of certainty as to the future trajectories of the city and its people are in place. Instead, a plethora of events during the first decade of the twenty-first century indicate that we have entered a period of increasing uncertainty, complexity and cultural change. Global warming at unprecedented levels shows signs of increasing further bringing potentially devastating effects; reliance on oil for virtually every activity from industry to transport looks increasingly precarious and irrational; population shifts from political unrest, environmental disaster, or the search for employment or shelter look set to continue apace; financial collapse at institutional and sometimes national levels with its devastating consequences for the less well-off is a growing feature of capitalist economies; and socio-cultural changes in the form of new family formations, lifestyle choices or religious affiliations are impossible to predict. This is to mention only some of the contours of a future, particularly an urban future, marked by unpredictability and often rapid change with very uneven effects at a global level.

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