Urban Planning in a Multicultural Society

By Michael A. Burayidi | Go to book overview

know, something alien and strange" ( Walzer 1997:11). Yet, tolerance is a social quality, one which, as Michael Walzer reminds us ( 1997), is aided and abetted by "regimes of toleration." Tolerance is only pervasive and possible when embedded in social structures that nurture it.

Tolerance, though, is insufficient. People must be willing to compromise in ways that convey mutual respect and balance group interests with interests that groups have in common; that is, which sustain cultural pluralism ( Bowman 1996:95-104). Compromise also flows more generously from supportive social structures, and like tolerance, it is also embodied in socialized individuals with (often) politicized identities. These are the issues to which critical pragmatism must turn. Solutions are elusive, but better a messy and partial response than avoidance.

Such a response might begin with a number of questions, questions relevant not only to critical pragmatism but to all planning theories. First, what does it mean to plan in a political economy that exacerbates inequalities and is disinclined to a robust welfare state, in a society increasingly multicultural but suffused with discriminations, in a country more and more spatially organized along lines of class and race, with a civil society wedged between the pressures of commodification and the erosion of the governmental programs that support it? This question is an invitation to historical and spatial embeddedness.

Second, how should we plan in different institutional settings? What types of planning make sense in civil society? What are the costs of reducing planning to communicative action? These questions point to the need for institutional embeddedness.

Third, what does it mean that planning is carried out by real people with specific class backgrounds, gendered, racialized, and having strong ties to specific residential areas? Can any person, at any time, be a planner? Here, we embody planning.

Finally, how can planners engage democratically with those with whom they plan without abandoning a commitment to justice and without sacrificing their skills as planners?


NOTES
1.
Harper and Stein ( 1995) call their version neo-pragmatism.
2.
Michael Walzer, in a lecture titled "Deliberation and What Else?" labeled this turn to deliberative democracy as the American version of German ideal-speech theory, the former being less philosophical and more immediately and politically relevant. The lecture took place on December 2, 1997, at the New School for Social Research ( New York City).
3.
As will be obvious later, the "universal" principles of inclusion and justice pose internal dilemmas for a "strict" multiculturalism.
4.
Feminists within planning have made similar arguments; see Hillier 1995, Hopper 1992, and Sandercock and Forsyth 1992. For a postmodern critique, see Beauregard 1991.
5.
Essentially, I am focusing on the "deep conflicts" of cultural pluralism ( Bowman 1996:75). Examples abound of "strict" multiculturalism, particularly in its political correctness mode. For illustration, see Orlando Patterson's ( 1997:83-123) discussion of

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