21 Pages

Introduction: Trends and Prospects

WithChinoy Ely

Prediction is an uncertain enterprise deemed appropriate for soothsayers, prophets, and visionaries, but usually avoided by social scientists. To explore the future— or possible futures— does not require, as some might fear, a commitment to a rigid determinism or a venture into uncertain prophecy. It entails instead consideration of trends and of the social and cultural variables that may affect them, analysis of urban problems and possible solutions, and a careful review of the proposals of planners, politicians, and even visionaries for remaking cities and for controlling or directing anticipated growth. Urban problems and urban growth, though obviously affected by large- scale economic, social, and cultural trends, are no longer to be seen as the product of impersonal forces manifested in a myriad of largely uncontrollable individual actions. The actions taken and the choices made will inevitably be constrained by those economic, social, and cultural facts which provide the context for public policy.