chapter  3
13 Pages

4 Planning for the place: ethnographic research and planning practice

Social and spatial research is essential to planning practice, from the projection of trends and problem analyses to the evaluation of feasible alternatives and social impacts of implementation. In an effort to be recognized as a social science in the 1980s, planning embraced a positivist approach that isolated variables for probabilistic analysis and generalized application to problems (Madsen 1983: 113-116). As the application of knowledge to action in the public domain (Friedmann 1987), planning tries to anticipate or forecast events so that they might be steered, but the future is unpredictable and affected by multiple global and local drivers, institutions, actors, and technologies (Hopkins and Zapata 2007).