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Anglo-American town planning theory since 1945: three significant developments but no paradigm shifts

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In recent times it has become fashionable to describe major changes in the history of ideas as 'paradigm' shifts, and some have described changes in town planning thought since the end of the Second World War in these terms. In this article I offer an overview of the history of town planning thought since 1945, and suggest that there have been three outstanding changes in planning thought over this period. These are, first, the shift in the 1960s from the view of town planning as an exercise in physical planning and urban design to the systems and rational process views of planning; second, the shift from the view of town planning as an activity requiring some technical expertise to the view of planning as a political process of making value-judgements about environmental change in which the planner acts as a manager and facilitator of that process; and third, the shift from 'modernist' to 'postmodernist' planning theory. I argue that none of these changes represents a paradigm change in anything like the strong sense of that term. Rather, they are better viewed as significant developments which have 'filled out' and enriched the rather primitive town planning theory which existed half a century ago.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-10-01

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