International Workshop

Reflexive Modernization and Spatial Planning.
Ideology, rhetoric and networking in the era of decolonization
Alexandros-Andreas Kyrtsis
Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Athens
Progress, in the sense of overcoming traditions in order to achieve economic and administrative rationalization, seemed to be necessary in the post-1945 era of decolonization and global social change, and this largely contributed to the definition and demarcation of ideological streams in urban planning and architecture. International style functionalism and mass housing programs, as well as planning of industrial poles and economic linkages and hierarchies of places were very often following the spirit of modernization and developmentalism. Needs in this respect were supposed to be met by means of economic growth, developmental measures and the building of infrastructure. For many policy makers disregarding qualitative aspects did not seem to bear the risk of creating spatial systems, which at a next point in time would bring more problems than solutions. This means that many spatial planners were following those modernist politicians and economists who were putting growth and development on equal terms. However, others, especially after the beginnings of the 1960s started following different trends. It was very soon realized that processes of modernization created new problems, which stemmed to great extent from overlooking needs as appearing in concrete socio-historical contexts, or potentials for action deviating from standards set by main-stream modernizers. Neo-Marxist critiques of modernization was not the only source of discourses on negative and side effects of social, economic and political change in the 1950s and 1960s. Many, even non-Marxist, urbanization theorists adopted very early a critical stance originating in the works of Simmel or the Chicago School , as well as in the ideas of theorists of urbanization like Geddes, Mumford or Giedion. For this group, the politics, as well as the social and the political theories inherent in theories and ideologies of spatial planning, were marked from the fact that urban planners, geographers and architects dealt with side effects of modernization processes already since the end of the 19th century. Because of the importance of these alternative trends, although urban and regional planning, as well as architectural design was an integral part in programs of economic development and modernization of whole nations, the propositions of planners comprised qualitative aspects stemming from a consciousness of crisis and side effects. The result was the many ideas were a mixture of futuristic decontextualization and an attempt to analyze and understand needs. This ambivalence has extensively influenced the politics, ideologies and rhetoric of urban planning and architectural design. Especially whenever planners were seeking to embed their approach in the wider context of economic, social and political theory or in cases where they had to compromise the ideological roots of their ideas with the politics of governments, which were their powerful clients, conflicts and compromises between these two aspects were often mapped upon ideological elaborations or upon rhetorical schemes. Furthermore, these ideological and rhetorical ambivalences, and subsequent professional and intellectual politics among spatial planners were reflected upon networking practices around journals and conferences. We can draw interesting conclusions if we take as examples such networks as the Regional Science Association or the "Ekisticians" as they were shaped in the 1960s and early 1970s. We can also compare the role of individual planners like Doxiadis, Koenigsberger, Kenzo Tange, Le Corbusier, J. Turner, G. Papanek etc. and their place in policy and intellectual networks.__