Planning for the Place

Ethnographic research and planning practice

Authored by: Sandra Lee Pinel

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415727952
eBook ISBN: 9781315851884
Adobe ISBN: 9781317917038


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Social and spatial research is essential to planning practice, from the projection of trends and problem analyses to the evaluation of feasible alternatives and social impacts of implementation. In an effort to be recognized as a social science in the 1980s, planning embraced a positivist approach that isolated variables for probabilistic analysis and generalized application to problems (Madsen 1983: 113–116). As the application of knowledge to action in the public domain (Friedmann 1987), planning tries to anticipate or forecast events so that they might be steered, but the future is unpredictable and affected by multiple global and local drivers, institutions, actors, and technologies (Hopkins and Zapata 2007).

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