Objectives and Values: Planning for Multicultural Groups Rather than Multiple Constituencies
Peter B. Meyer & Christopher R. Reaves
Public policy in general, and planning in particular, have always had to address the diverse interests and concerns of different groups. Neither policy analysts nor planners historically have been particularly sensitive to the needs and priorities of interest groups other than the dominant, or politically most powerful, parties in their environments. This myopic understanding of the factors relevant to decisionmaking has gradually been broadened in recent decades, but planning still has a long way to go to incorporating all the issues that are germane to selection of plans and strategies for action. In particular, the advances that have been made in addressing the diversity of interest group perspectives by and large have been limited to recognition that class differences and minority group concerns exist. Progress has been far more limited in planners' understanding of and response to the even greater diversity associated with a multiplicity of cultures and cultural values present in almost any society.
There is substantial literature that addresses the problems of multiple constituencies for any given social policy or planning decision. The entire discussion of distributional effects that appear as an overlay on the core welfare economics analyses of most cost-benefit analysis writing constitutes one massive subset of the writing on the subject ( Gramlich 1981; Mishan 1976; Sugden and Williams 1978; Thompson 1980). Another strand is the growing body of material on conflict resolution and negotiations that has emerged as more room is made for citizens' groups and neighborhood associations at the table at which policies and plans are drawn up ( Meyer 1994). Taken in combination, these two components of the literature suggest that decision-making processes may be moving toward better representation of diverse interests than existed in the past.
However, there is ample evidence, both in the underlying theory and conceptualization, and in planning practice on the ground, that this progress in addressing multiple constituencies does not necessarily constitute advance in