10 Pages

Towards consensus? from Habermas to Healey

Early public policy in the field of urban and regional planning was related to municipal reform. In the later nineteenth century in Western Europe urban areas were suffering problems of over-rapid development. High incidences of disease were related to air and water pollution, poverty and overcrowding. Solutions were sought through physical manipulation of the environment. Surveyors, architects and engineers thus founded the discipline of planning, emphasising virtues of technical expertise, certainty, large-scale ‘God’s-eye’ vision. By the same logic, the complex machine (Simon, 1982) of society could also be reconstructed through ‘social engineering’. Such a view of planning and public policy is rooted in the enlightenment traditions of scientific knowledge and reason.