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Planning for a sustainable society : institutional reform & social transformation

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Birkeland, JL (1993) Planning for a sustainable society : institutional reform & social transformation. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This work provides a critical overview of the land use and environmental planning (Planning)
system in the wider context of the social and institutional transformation that is necessary to create a
sustainable society. I theorize why and how ecologically-damaging decisions concerning public
resource allocation are made, and suggest how the decision-making system can be reformed. To do
this, I articulate and further develop a new social paradigm, ecofeminism, as an analytical framework
for de/reconstructing the Planning system.
Planning, the 'visible hand' of government, is the resource allocation arena that has the potential
to prevent destructive conflict over resources. It can provide the long-term, rational, ethics-based
and participatory decision-making process that is required for sustainable resource allocation. The
other public decision-making systems, in particular, the market and political arenas, by their very
nature, lack one or more of these characteristics. Private markets can create diverse commodities and
opportunities for investments and 'consumer choices', but cut off more basic social choices in the
long term. Unlike Planning, they cannot protect the environment, despite the claims of economic
rationalists.
As currently designed and conceived, however, Planning has also proven incapable of expanding
social choice, protecting the environment, and ensuring sustainable development. Planning has been
criticized as ineffectual by both sides of the political spectrum: those calling for more planning and
those calling for less. This failure, I suggest, is because it has been geared toward mitigating the
consequences of 'unplanned' and often irreversible decisions in the political and market arenas.
When seen as an institution, the present Planning system could be said to be inherently biased
against environmental preservation. I argue that this is due to the power-based institutions
(Patriarchy) and intellectual framework (Power Paradigm) in which Planning theory and practice
evolved.
Because the existing Planning system is structured on Patriarchal premises, structures, and
concepts, it cannot address the underlying causes of environmental conflict. A new decision-making
system that is capable of fostering a truly ecological ethic cannot be created within the reforms being
offered either by progressive planners or mainstream greens. This is because their problem analyses
do not go deep enough; a total rethink is necessary. This work is intended to contribute to this
rethink. Its main purpose is to lay the groundwork for the kind of preventative Planning system that
is necessary to create a sustainable society.
A proposal to guide the redesign of the system of environmental governance is offered to generate
public debate. Because Planning theory and practice reflects and reinforces the Patriarchal society at
large, however, institutional reform cannot be achieved in isolation from fundamental social change.
I argue that ecofeminism also provides a comprehensive framework for the development of strategies
for social transformation more generally.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Sustainable development, Social change, Social planning
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1993 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1994. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 332-347)

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:46
Last Modified: 04 May 2016 00:41
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