University Of Tasmania
whole_BirkelandJanis1994_thesis.pdf (21.77 MB)

Planning for a sustainable society : institutional reform & social transformation

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:26 authored by Birkeland, JL
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.


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

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