Popular Action and the Roots of Planning

Hall’s “Cities of Tomorrow” is reminding me just how prevalent the fear of class action was on the development of planning in the late 19th century. The characterization of the industrial poor as desperate wretches certainly provided the impetus for state and philanthropic action, yet it also seems to have led to a more imminent fear of the lower classes. As Hall explains, this was almost certainly spurred on by a growing class consciousness, direct action by labor unions, and the rapid spread of socialist and worker’s parties throughout Europe in the 1880’s and 90’s.

After completing this chapter, I’d like to revisit this same topic from a modern vantage point. The mass action and popular agitation that has come along with the rekindling of the civil rights movement and growing perception of wage inequality will help to form the planning priorities for the next several decades. The State, corporate, and philanthropic response is underway, though in fits and starts. Next week I’d like to evaluate where popular action might drive planning in the near future.


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