University of Cincinnati
Department of Sociology
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221
Late Nineteenth Century and Early Twentieth Century Sociologist-Planners
A Legacy of Problems and Promise
Sociology and planning, both valuable to society, are different: sociology
provides scientific understanding of society; while democratic planning
utilizes community values through policy goals for social and physical
development. Though valuable together, these fields involve two kinds of
careers with divergent cultures and role orientations, seldom included
or combined in a single life experience. Patrick Geddes, Robert E. Park,
Karl Mannheim and Louis Wirth are models of such dual professionals for
whom the historical-sociological context includes the influence of the
Chicago School and Frankfurt School of Sociology-Social Science. These
four mavericks left a legacy of problems and promise for contemporary sociologists.
Social theorists, social scientists or sociologists who have linked
the subjects of sociology or social science, and planning, in individual
lives are few and far between. Rarer still are sociologists who in their
work and in their careers have functioned also -- professionally and intellectually
-- as planners, in the areas of theory, policy and/or action. Their
appearance in the history of sociology may be regarded as a minor phenomenon.
Psychologist Leonard Doob, early in the twentieth century, and utopian socialist Charles Fourier, back in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, are examples of social scientists and social theorists who operated in one way or another also as planners. Sociologists Janet Abu-Lughod, Daniel Carson, Herbert Gans and Amitai Etzioni are more contemporary instances, along with those less known, such as Phil Nyden and John Gaventa.
The value to society of planning in democracies has been summed up:
Planning (often) is called upon in modern times because complex urban area problems (involving crime, housing, taxes, transportation, health, utilities, welfare) cannot be adequately dealt with alone by entrepreneurial market mechanisms or the functional self-interest of party politics. (Democratic) planning (operates) in relation to social and economic goals set by the community (Jenkins 1983).
As such, planning is a form of social action, different from sociology,
which analyzes behavior and society. These fields are different in other
ways: ameliorative (planning) vs. contemplative (sociology); value-based
vs. dispassionate or 'objective'; of the community vs. of the academy.
As careers they are different styles of life; indeed, as E.P. Snow would
say, they are "two cultures", different orientations, difficult
The purpose of this paper is to describe four cases as biographical illustrations of sociologists who have 'doubled' or alternated as planners, and to provide a historical and sociological context of the linking of sociology and planning, including planning practice, a context of the careers of our case-examples from Britain, the United States and Germany. One of the early contexts within which social theorists engaged in planning and planning-related work was in the contemplation or fashioning of Utopian societies or communities. Among these were Godwin and Owen of England, and Fourier and Saint-Simon of France (Goodwin 1978). (Owen of course was an industrialist-turned-social thinker.) Their purpose was ".. to derive the principles of an ideal society from a scientific analysis of man .." (Goodwin 1978:1). The design was to eradicate "conflict, crime and misery .. and (create) social harmony ... as models of the perfectly constructed, perfectly functioning society, not as .. fantasies." (Goodwin 1978:2). Much of this utopian work was in response to social and economic maladies issuing from early capitalism.
This kind of intellectual fire was hinted at much later, in the 1960's and 1970's when interest in the application of sociology to modern problems of crime, deviance and education became widespread in Britain and the United States (Mitchell 1968). Further, Merton's analytical work on "the relationship between means and goals" was followed by sociologists' fascination with the problems of planning cities and development of new countries (Mitchell 1968:298, 301).
In between was a significant period, 1880's-1940's, which included the major trends and patterns of the relationship between sociology and social activism stretching over a century or more.
Only a relative few contemporary sociologists appear to be actually working in the dual roles either of research/operator or social scientist/designer or theorist/planner. And certainly only a handful of well-known modern sociologists have professionally linked the two fields, i.e., professional sociology and professional planning. Such linking includes playing not only the role of sociologist (as in studying the sociology of planning, or sociology of the urban region or environment) but also the role of planner. By "planner" is meant practicing planner, policy planner, or planning writer -- writing about or describing planning itself, in planning's own terms.
What is planning? Planning is future-oriented; it is doing things now consciously and deliberately to shape the future welfare, environment and condition of humans and/or non-humans. A plan is "a course of action which can be carried into effect, which can be expected to lead to the attainment of the ends sought, and which someone [or organization] intends to carry into effect." (Myerson and Banfield 1955:312).
For our purposes, planning is a process for rational, controlled physical and social change in relation to socially -- and corporately -- determined goals and objectives rooted in societal or community values. Ideally, planning is based on the best social, economic and physical data available and the best professional, technical and intellectual ideas available. Realistically, it is mitigated by political and cultural considerations.
The principal tools of social planning are social policy, including housing, education, mental health, criminal justice, and community organization and community development. Physical planning involves changes in and control of land uses and building design and determining the shape and pattern of urban and rural spaces, with the use of zoning laws and building and subdivision regulations. (Eisner, Gallion and Eisner 1993; Wilson 1980; Goodman and Freund 1968.) Social planning involves changes in and control of social institutions and human communities (see Jenkins 1968; Gans 1968; Faludi 1978; Alexander 1986). Finally, the scales at which planning may be carried out range from neighborhood, local, metropolitan, regional, national, to sometimes international.
The clearest examples -- or models -- of dual professionals in sociology and planning appeared near the end of the nineteenth century and earlier in this century. Four such models are used as case-examples in this essay: Patrick Geddes, Robert E. Park, Karl Mannheim, and Louis Wirth, in that order. Almost included in this list was Jane Addams, active in the early decades of this century and who became a documented victim of an earlier history of gender bias in the University of Chicago's sociology department (Deegan 1988).1 Indeed, she and her Hull House associates were among the American pioneers of social surveys in urban communities (Dulles 1959). Her omission here may be on weak though arguable grounds.2
As Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Georg Simmel are regarded as classical in the history of sociology, so Wirth, Mannheim, Park and Geddes may be considered "classic" representatives in the history of sociologists who also have acted as planners.
These four scholars are significant to a discussion of sociologist-planners for at least seven reasons. First, their combined careers covered a critical period of the development of modern sociology -- the 1880's-1940's (which in turn covers the bulk of the modern history of sociology, which began with Auguste Comte.) Second, between them their works and ideas reflect significant changes, trends and patterns in social science identified within that critical period. Third, three of these examples were associated with at least one of the two "esteemed schools" credited with being responsible for key long term developments within sociology and social science in that same critical period. Fourth, all of these professionals clearly worked on either side, or both sides, of the fence between the "academy" and the real world -- between theory and action. Fifth, all four had bearing or influence on the practice of planning, planning policy, or planning education, i.e., on the production of plans (and sometimes their implementation) and/or the development of planning professionals. Sixth, three of the four published on sociological aspects of planning. Finally, all four at one time or another acted in the role of planner, and even worked through planning organizations. These four figures in sociology are reviewed here as case examples, followed by a brief discussion illustrating the problems and challenges that accompanied such double roles, and the legacy provided by these exemplars. But first a depiction of the relevant historical and sociological context within which to understand these scholar-practitioners and other academic-activists of their times.
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In the earlier decades of the period of 1880's-1940's there were more
generalists or "social theorists." There was less distinction
between disciplines, between professions and between scholarly study and
practice. From the eighteenth century through part of this general period
a number of prominent social theorists were hardly associated with universities
at all or if so, for only part of their careers. Stemming from both the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (see Olson 1993) many were rooted
in philosophy in training, study and degrees, especially from the 1880's
to the turn of the century. When they became "social scientists"
they practiced "social science" in the broad sense. Still others
operated as "political economists" or "anthropologists,"
reflecting the colonial realities of imperial Europe. The work of these
professionals, however, included interests and skills in social studies
beyond their own designated area (Mennell 1989).
In both Europe and the United States University-connected social scientists tended to be trained not only in philosophy but often in religion. Indeed, in America in the teens and twenties, some prominent "sociologists" were trained broadly in philosophy, while others were identified loosely as "economists," as was Albion Small of Chicago and some early leaders of other programs of social science and sociology. In the U.S. there tended to be a juxtaposition of sociology and social work in graduate work in the U.S., seen in the 1930's and 1940's, and is still reflected in the organization of some university departments. This appeared to have been associated with a reformist zeal emerging from a combination of religious piety and an enthusiasm for empirical research from the 1920's into the 1940's, that oriented academic research scholars to the outside world -- especially the urban community (Giddens 1987). In Europe, however, it was political philosophy -- especially Marxism -- that oriented scholars to the outside world -- especially the economy. Theory was heavy and research was light, until the 1920's.
Sociology in the 1950's witnessed the last of the philosophers, religionists, generalists and "gentleman-professors" (Gouldner 1970). The 1960's and early 1970's constituted a watershed period, including a gradual, then rapid, increase in the number and proportion of empirical researchers; and increased separation within professional groups, including academic ones: "radical" and "liberation" whites in the social sciences, "advocacy" groups and "advocate planners" in the design professions, and militant "reformist" blacks in planning, the social sciences and social work (Jenkins 1984).
The 1980's (along with the 1990's so far) presented an enigma of increased interest in cross-disciplinary work inside the academy, accompanied by a solid increase in opportunities for sociologists and other academics in "applied settings," outside of the academy. At the same time the increase in specialization of University-produced sociologists and other social scientists led to an estrangement -- even a separation -- of many academics from the community, while leading others to the outside world for applied research and policy work.
To the extent American sociologists became attuned to political philosophy a la continental Europe, the more likely they were to be oriented to social activism. There was evidence of this tendency for a while in the 1960's and early 1970's in "the sheer visibility of sociologists, in the student revolts at various universities." (Gouldner 1970: 12.) This was a manifestation of the American New Left as influenced by the New Left in Germany, reflecting values originating in the German School of Critical Sociology (Gouldner 1970). But to some this is not the tone today. A review of current sociology texts concludes that sociology is not a discipline that is even devoted to "describing and understanding matters of public concern" (O'Brien 1995:308). Yet, as we shall see, there is evidence of hope.
Two schools of sociology/social science in America and Europe, respectively, may be seen as axles of the 1880's-1980's epoch as to academics turning (in different ways) toward public concern and public policy and practice. The University of Chicago organized in 1892 the first graduate program in sociology, known as the Chicago School, and established leadership at the start of the 1920's and gave direction to the field for two decades (Smith 1988). In Germany the Institute of Social Research assembled in the 1930's a formidable group of intellectuals and scholars, mostly Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany and Nazi-occupied European countries (Wiggershaus 1994). Known as the Frankfurt School, by the mid-1930's it became an academic magnet and forged a new direction in political philosophy and social theory, even as Chicago became notorious for using its city as a laboratory for urban analysis and field studies. The watchword at Chicago was "research" (empirical research); at Frankfurt it was "theory" - critical theory. In Europe, the context for activism at Frankfurt was Marxism and reaction to Nazism. Frankfurt veered left (Wiggershaus 1994; Woldring 1987). In America the context at Chicago was the pragmatism of Dewey vs. the Marxist tone of Veblen. Chicago tilted toward Dewey (Smith 1988).
Horkheimer was director of Frankfurt's Institute, while Mannheim headed up the Sociology Department which was the Institute's intellectual left (Wiggershaus 1994; Mennell 1989). At Chicago, Park chaired the Sociology department which was very aggressive in the social gospel of urban social reform through research (Smith 1988).
The students at Chicago were industrious, pragmatic, energetic empirical case-study researchers (Smith 1988). The students in both the Sociology department and the overall Institute at Frankfurt were "highly politicized" and wary of fascism (Mennell 1989: 15). Both schools were oriented to the outside world, deviant from the mainstream in each case.
There were some connections between faculty members of the two schools, as for instance in the working relations between Mannehim in Frankfurt and Wirth in Chicago. But this was part of a larger picture: the influence of European sociologists and social scientists on American sociologists in the 1880's-1940's period (House 1936). Nowhere was the influence of European social science and social scientists on American sociology clearer than in the Chicago School, in the persons of Park and Wirth -- in two successive generations virtually spanning the 1880's-1940's period. Park studied sociology late in the 1890's at the University of Berlin under Simmel whose ideas had a lasting influence on him (see Weinstein and Weinstein 1989).
Wirth at Chicago in the early-to-mid-1930's communicated with Mannheim in Frankfurt on collaborative work for publication (Shils 1995). As a result of this experience Wirth taught Mannheim's subject of sociology of knowledge.
The intellectual and sociological context within which our four exemplars operated, then, included major shifts: from religion-based moral philosophy to political and economic philosophy; and from established social theory to critical theory. These changes were inspired mainly in Germany, especially in the Frankfurt School. The context also included a clear move from philosophical debate and abstract theoretical discussion to pragmatic, empirical research; and from the generalist to the specialist. This movement was inspired mainly in America; especially in the Chicago School. In both Frankfurt and Chicago these shifts and movements led to an academic-activist orientation.
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These dual professionals may be called "sociologist-planners," as described by Charles Abrams in his glossary, The Language of Cities (p. 230). But inasmuch as they were sociologists, originally and/or primarily, "Sociologist-as-planner" would be a more literal term. Patrick Geddes (Scotland), Robert E. Park (U.S.A.), Karl Mannheim (Germany and England)3 and Louis Wirth (U.S.A.) were significant sociologists-planners from about 1900 to the 1940's, and as a group, more generally as academic-activists from the 1880's well into the 1940's. Though Geddes' career (1880's-1910's) overlaps Mannheims' (1910's-1940's), chronologically, Mannheim was strictly in sociology in Hungary and Germany long before moving to England and planning work. And Park, whose career overlaps those of both Geddes and Mannheim, was still into academic philosophy, journalism and muckraking during Geddes' maturing as a sociologist and blossoming as a planner. And, further, Park's intellectual and sociological nurturing took place in Germany -- before Mannheim -- and not in Britain: neither in England (a la Mannheim) or in Scotland (a la Geddes). But Wirth (1920's-1940's) not only overlapped with Park and Mannheim, he was associated with both. These four sociologist-planners and the specific roles they played in the linking of sociology and planning in their individual biographies are summarized in what follows.
Scotland's Patrick Geddes was a social activist long before he became
a known sociologist. In 1884 he organized the Edinburgh Social Union for
the purpose of "improving conditions in the squalid slums of Edinburgh."
Fifteen years later while on a three-month fact-finding trip to Cyprus, a British colony, he observed "fundamental problems" and "appalling conditions," and he acted to improve the situation (Stalley 1972:32). He also helped to start the Regional survey association, the Civic and Moral Education League, the Town Planning Institute and the Ecological Society (Stalley 1972:45). Meanwhile he was a thorn in the sides of academic professionals: he worked in several 'disciplines," and always indicated how each could and should be utilized in reconstituting and "'realizing'" cities (Stalley 1972:44).
Geddes was a "renaissance man." Over the period of his peripatetic public career he was recognized as a biologist, ecologist, and most prominently as sociologist and as a planner (Stalley 1972; Boardman 1978; Kitchen 1975; Scott 1969). For his accomplishments from the turn of the century to the 1920's he is remembered more as a planner and ecologist, however, than as a sociologist or biologist. Nevertheless, he is remembered and established clearly in many quarters as a sociologist. In 1976 an international list of twenty-three urban sociologists and other scholars contributed to a published volume produced in memoriam to Geddes as the first Professor and Founder of the University of Bombay's Department of Sociology (Ferreira and Jha 1976). The contributing sociologists included the late Leonard Riessmann and Irene Taeuber, and also Edgar F. Borgatta, Walter Firey, Leo F. Schnore, Sylvia F. Fava, Amos H. Hawley, T. Lynn Smith, and Noel P. Gist. The fact that in 1903 Geddes and a friend, Victor Branford, established the Sociological Society in England, further identifies Geddes as a sociologist (Stalley 1972:42; Kitchen 1975:209).
As a sociologist, Geddes was strongly influenced by the ideas of Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer and Frederick Le Play. He was particularly impressed with the "prosynthetic" bent of Comte's sociology, which was a suitable accommodation to his interdisciplinary outlook and his resistance to and criticism of what he considered to be the narrow specialization of most of the academics of his day. He was so pleased with the aspect of evolution in Spencer's writings that he apparently appropriated it in the most famous of his books, Evolution of Cities. Le Play, however, apparently had the greatest impact on Geddes' interdisciplinary outlook and subsequent work. Geddes saw Le Play's approach to the study of society, in terms of "Place," "Work" [and] "Folk," as a counterpart to biology's rudimentary triad of "Environment, Function [and] Organism." (Stalley 1973:10).
Geddes had little use for or patience with an abstract sociology as an ultimate goal. Also he did not believe that sociological knowledge alone could provide either the principle or sole explanation of social phenomena which, he maintained, exist in both physical and social environmental settings. His approach to social issues and his sense of application of knowledge was at the same time broader and more pragmatic, though somewhat less scientific, than those of the academic sociologists of his day. What he called "civics" was a kind of fulcrum for bringing these several disciplinary elements together (Stalley 1972).
As indicated earlier, in some circles, he was regarded as a "pioneer of sociology." (Kitchen 1975). On the other hand, Geddes also is considered to have had somewhat of a frontier role in the history of modern day city and urban planning (Scott 1969). His were some of the earliest ideas on ecology, new towns, and systematic, scientific research as requisite for town planning. His famous phrase, "Diagnose before plan," was taught to a generation of planning students in Britain and in the U.S.
Geddes' first town planning job was an assignment to devise a large scale plan for Dunfermline (near Edinburgh), hometown of American millionaire Andrew Carnegie, whose posthumous gift provided the planning funds for this project (Stalley 1972:47). The task: to recommend the best use of a major park, a library and surrounding estates. This initial project was considered to be pioneering, prodigious and thoroughgoing (Stalley 1972). His other well-known plans include one for Aberdeen in Scotland, and one each for the towns of Lucknow and Lahore in India. (He is remembered in India, therefore, both for his sociology and his planning.) The entire, highly-regarded Lahore planning report was reprinted in 1965 by India's National Planning Commission, as part of a series on urban works programs. The reprint highlighted Geddes' principles of "conservative surgery" and of combining physical and social planning (Stalley 1972:385).
These latter two concepts are among many of Geddes' ideas and terms that have been inherited or appropriated by the field of planning, both with and without acknowledement. For example, the word "conurbation" (similar in meaning to "megalopolis") was popularized and passed on to later generations. Also, he coined the term "geotechnics" (Kitchen 1975:24). This latter term undoubtedly prompted Lewis Mumford's linguistic style of characterizing urban historical epochs, for Mumford had both a correspondence and a brief association with Geddes. And the influence of Geddes' concepts certainly appears in the work of landscape architect Ian McHarg, a later Scotsman, in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's, in the latter's own work through the University of Pennsylvania (see McHarg 1992).
In many ways Geddes provided the basic foundation for contemporary regional, ecological and environmental thinking espoused today in enlightened planning that began in the late 1960's (Kitchen 1971). He also anticipated in his work current ideas and concerns about social planning (Stalley 1972), post occupancy evaluation of environmental design, (Stalley 1972: 47), interdisciplinary knowledge and research (Stalley 1972), citizen participation (Kitchen 1975, Stalley 1972), and the relation of planning to politics (Stalley 1972). Finally, one might suspect that "civic design," still taught in some British universities, was inspired in part by Geddes' concept of civics as applied sociology for planning and development.
The key to Geddes as a sociologist-planner is that he made little or no distinction between scientific study, on one plane; applied social science, on a second; and planning and development as specific application, on a third. In matters of social policy Geddes was not merely a progressive but a social reformer -- on topics of environment, planning, sociology and education.
After long formal studies in the U.S. and Germany Robert Park, the ex-newspaper
man, lost his desire for teaching. He was " 'sick and tired of the
academic world, and wanted to go back into the world of men ... (He likened
himself to Faust who) was tired of books and wanted to see the world.'
" (Coser 1971:368). This led to his muckraking and expose period.
Through it, he knew intimately more regions in this country than any sociologist
of his time. Thus it was a "wide-ranging, adventurous, restless ...
Park" who joined the University of Chicago in 1914 (Raushenbush 1979:viii).
Like Wirth later, before long he became president of the American Sociological
Society. His worldly objects of study were eclectic: revolution, anarchism,
crowds, the newspaper, peasants, cities, race relations, etc. (Raushenbush
Park was somewhat like Mannheim in that while he "never thought of himself as a reformer [he] was deeply committed to the belief that sociological knowledge was knowledge with value in real-world situations. (He) detested do-goodism and even disliked the social work approach to community problems." (Raushenbush, 1979:147). But his experience brought him into close observation of social problems, reform and social intervention, especially in the decade just before beginning his years in academic sociology at the University of Chicago (Raushenbush, 1979:201). As a result of his absorption in sociology and sociological research, but combining them with a concern for social improvement and progress, he espoused a "scientific" approach to the question of social work. This was represented in part in his mid-1920's short article, "The Significance of Social Research in Social Service" (Park, 1924). In these connections, he was active from the early teens through the 1930's.
Park's sociology was nurtured in his active, productive, and significant teaching and research career, through which he was the leading light of the Chicago School. (He had, himself, received only one formal sociology course of instruction: from Simmel.) But like Wirth later, he frequently was off campus as well as on, although his extensive travels and his work with the Institute of Pacific Relations dealt mostly with race relations.
Park's research was activist in the democratic liberal tradition. Long before the economic depression of the 1930's the studies he led or inspired raised issues of central city physical and social redevelopment (Janowitz 1967). Park, several colleagues, and graduate researchers "were concerned with comprehensive schemes of social change and social planning" in addition to academic investigation (Janowitz 1967 vii; see also Smith 1988:5). The Chicago research program was launched by Park's paper, "The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the City Environment," published in 1915 (Smith 1988; see also Park and Burgess 1969, 1924).
Finally, Park's program of social analysis reached across disciplinary and departmental fences and out into the urban community. The studies involved cooperation not only with nearby social science disciplines but also across campus to Social Service Administration and the business school. And Park's sociologists entered into contracts with city, community and reform agencies that presumably could make practical use of the researchers' data and information (Smith 1988).
Park's relation to planning was somewhat distant and indirect, by comparison to the other three sociologists considered here. But through the duality of his academic- abstract, and his practical-direct, experience, his influence on planning education and a later generation of planners was great, as will be seen. He had a tangential interest in both social and physical planning, and he always related it to his interest in sociology ("Social Planning and Human Nature," 1935) and the social ecology of the city ("Organization and the Romantic Temper," 1925). In the latter, he expressed his view of city planning--in planning's own terms--but in relation to his ecological concept of the city.
Park himself, unlike either Mannheim or Wirth, never made many explicit planning proposals or established specific planning ideas. But his interdisciplinary work in urban sociology connected him with the urban interests of activist political scientist Charles Merriam and other on-and-off campus activist professors in the University of Chicago's graduate School of Social Science Research. The work of Park and these colleagues developed and produced the students who, two years after Park's passing, formed in 1946 the University of Chicago's innovative interdisciplinary planning program. Like the program then at the University of Wisconsin, it stressed the use of social science (Scott 1969). As already noted, however, Chicago was far more influential, than any other program of planning education, in establishing new directions in planning in the United States (Sarbib 1983).
This Chicago "Program of Education and Research in Planning," known widely as the "Chicago School," constituted an intellectual and philosophical link with Wirth and Mannheim. It was Wirth, who while he was Chairman of the Illinois Post-War Planning Board, recommended "a new kind of training program for planners" (Sarbib 1983). On the one hand, Wirth had been a student and colleague of Park. On the other, he had been a collaborator of Mannheim's. Again, Mannheim was required reading and his ideas were a major influence in the Chicago School. (Friedmann, who treated Mannheim extensively in his book on transactive planning, Retracking America, was one of the School's students, as was Gans, Edward Banfied and Harvey Perloff.) Evidence of its influence: progressive reform was a hallmark of the program, but another was the use of both the methods and products of political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, engineering and architecture (Sarbib 1983). Societal guidance linked to a rational decision-making model was yet another Mannheimian feature in the program.
Thus, through Park's students and their participation and leadership in the Chicago School of Planning, he [Park] contributed to an influential vein of planning education and thus in turn to planning practice in the United States.
Although Park was an activist, it was more in the manner either of muckraking (for Booker T. Washington) or of getting close to the rough and tumble of the real world to make intimate observation of people in the general politics of life (as a journalist) and of people in their 'natural' environment--especially the urban environment (Coser 1977:368-369). The closest that Park's activism brought him to playing a direct role in planning, however, apparently was in his membership in the National Economic and Social Planning Association (Raushenbush 1979:202). A fit precursor, nevertheless, of the planning roles his student Louis Wirth would someday fill.
In the late 1920's when sociology was being taught at Cologne as "a
sterile theory of relations" under Leopold von Wiese, Karl Mannheim
left Heidelberg for Frankfurt (Wiggershaus 1994:111-112). As already noted,
The Institute at Frankfurt became the concentrated center of social theory
in Germany. But it also tilted toward the kind of empirical research that
already was flourishing in Chicago. The Institute, for example, carried
out in Frankfurt a large-scale study of the German working class (Wiggershaus
1994). Before leaving for his new post in London, Mannheim participated
in such public-concern projects. In fact he insisted that sociology "must
study specific, concrete, and actual problems." (Woldring 1987:305;
see also Shils 1995). Coser (1971:463) summarizes him as a man of "reformist
passions ... (with) the twin urges toward understanding man's vicissitudes
... and toward active intervention in public affairs ..." (and one
who) longed to be a man of wide public influence.
When he migrated to the London School of Economics (LSE) in England from the Frankfurt School in Germany he changed countries and citizenship, and ultimately changed his professional role. LSE has been, among Britain's graduate schools, the prominent place where planning/economic policy-related sociology has taken root, as in the work of David and Ruth Glass and Ralf Dahrendorf. According to one source, after the middle of the 1930's he "renounced his rich historical sociology to apply his intellectual powers to the practical problems of contemporary society" (Shils 1995:228-229). Although Mannheim is known largely for his contribution to the sociology of knowledge (while in Germany), he also (while in England) had considerable influence not only on planning policy and practice ( Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction), but also more than a modicum of influence on planning theory (Friedmann 1973). This book and Barbara Wotten's Freedom Under Planning were part of a long-term policy debate in England. He had in this role a great influence in British society, seen in its institutions, not only of education (Shils 1995), but also of politics, government, and religion ( The Economist, 1975). His prescription: Post-World-War-II and post-colonial Britain must adapt itself to the new world order and make the domestic adjustments required. To do this, British society must be transformed in policies and operation, by planning appropriate changes in its public concepts and in its institutions. He explained the British crisis as "the failure to reconcile the policy of Laissez-faire with the policy of a comprehensively planned society that yet left room for freedom." (Shils 1995:229).
Some of Mannheim's influence is evident even today, notwithstanding contrary intervening political forces. Some feel that attention to Mannheim's major work on the sociology of knowledge so overshadows notice of his contributions to planning theory that the latter contributions have been largely overlooked (Friedmann 1973; The Economist, 1975).
Some authors, according to Friedmann, appropriated some of Mannheim's formulations and married them to their own contributions. Robert Dahl and Charles Lindlom, for example, extended from a Mannheimesque planning theme, their own theory of social control, which in turn was itself an important contribution to applied social theory (Friedmann 1973). Mannheim's "overhauling" sense of social planning, i.e., societal planning is akin to what both sociologist Amitai Etzioni (earlier) and planner John Friedmann (more recently) have referred to as "societal guidance." (Etzioni 1968; Friedmann 1973). Friedmann explicitly acknowledges Mannheim as principal originator of the concept (Friedmann 1973: 22-45).
In the 1940-1950 period, Mannheim's work was a major influence in the University of Chicago planning school (Friedmann 1973). The ten-year planning school program through its graduates, in turn, is acknowledged to have had a major impact on planning and planning theory ever since: mainly, the introduction of social science to planning thought and practice.
It was reported by Reinhard Bendix that late in the 1930's Louis Wirth
"would argue that, to be a better social scientist, the scholar must
be a more active citizen. (For him) this was "a matter of professional
competence, not of individual preference." (Smith 1988:156). He practiced
what he preached: the young Wirth was active in campus anti-war groups
during World War I and he examined theoretical ideas for criticizing capitalism.
Also he did the following: gave congressional testimony during the New
Deal administration, on urban affairs and unemployment; provided sociological
data on school segregation for the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1954 case;
advised the Federal Public Housing Authority; and served as president of
the American Council on Race Relations. And "these activities fed
back into his academic work:" papers on housing, race and the need
for regional and national planning (Smith 1988:157). And as if to make
clear that all of this nevertheless was the work of a bona fide
sociologist, Wirth was president of the American Sociological Association
in 1946 and four years later became the first president of the International
Sociological Association (Smith 1988).
Wirth thus had a valid reputation as a nationally regarded academic sociologist who worked also genuinely outside of the academy. He was active as a sociologist in relation to planning, architecture and urban design during the 1930's and 1940's. He formally addressed audiences of planners, architects, and business people who were concerned about urban development. In 1935 he served as a member of the Research Committee on Urbanism of the National Resources Committee (formerly National Resources Planning Board). Harvard's landscape architect-planner-planning educator, Charles Eliot, was a fellow-member, and the Committee was chaired by Ladislas Segoe, a planning associate of the famous Alfred Bettman (Scott 1969).
In such instances, Wirth often served effectively as an applied sociologist; and the need for sociologists clearly was seen by the planners themselves (Scott 1969:346). Wirth is quoted as having reasoned: "We must not overlook the complex technological and social superstructure through which (the land) has been modified and which limits and conditions our use of it." (Scott 1969:346). In the same role he wrote a definitive paper on "Sociological Factors in Urban Design." But in the 1940's he not only spoke, but also acted -- as a planner -- in his planning role. He argued against dissolution of the National Resources Planning Board, and indeed against any resumption of states' rights (the old 'new federalism') at the expense of regionally coordinated planning (Scott 1969:412).
Perhaps the most direct public planning role that Wirth the sociologist played was in the 1940's, in his position as planning director of the Illinois Post-War Planning Commission which was successor to the Illinois State Planning Board (Sarbib 1983; Scott 1969:412).
In having acted both as sociologist and planner -- in both combined and separate roles -- he had a great deal in common with Karl Mannheim. Wirth admired and -- as sociologist -- collaborated with sociologist Mannheim, who also was active in the late 1930's and early 1940's -- as a planner. Most notably, Wirth, (with Shils) translated Mannheim's most famous sociological work, Ideology and Utopia and wrote the introduction (Shils 1995). As suggested earlier, Wirth taught from this book at Chicago.
Mavericks, reformers and deviants may be rebuffed, isolated or ostracized
in established society. Two of our four sociologist-planners, no doubt
like other academic-activists, were challenged, criticized, and/or sanctioned
by academic disciplines and institutions. One type of vicissitude that
three of the four had in common concerned their academic status. Park,
came to sociology at the University of Chicago clearly an activist and
was able to bear the semi-isolation and low pay under Albion Small, and
able to work full-time without a professorial appointment nevertheless,
only because of his family inheritance (Levine 1971, 1993). Park, like
his mentor, Simmel, attained full professorship only late in life (Coser
As Mannheim increasingly dealt with the world of public affairs he grew uncertain about his status at the London School. He suddenly found his appointment to be short-term rather than permanent, and like Park and Simmel, he found he was not a professor, as he had been in Germany, but a 'lecturer.' And the department head replaced him in the high-attendance required introductory course.
Wirth and Geddes suffered other types of indignities. William F. Ogburn, Wirth's academic colleague publicly criticized planning and planners: he gave credence neither to "wholesale planning or revolution" as compared to the significance of social development and technological innovation (Smith 1988:177). In Britain Geddes' analytical criticisms of economists were rebuffed not only because he was a gadfly activist but one from an alien field -- botany. (He was not yet a sociologist.) And later as sociologist he was ignored by academic sociologists because the approach of the Sociological Society and of Geddes and his fellow-members, was interventionist and reformist (Stalley 1972).
Following what might be called a long "golden" period of academic activism in the form of sociology-and-planning, the 1960's and 1970's respectively presented a general social and cultural revolution, and economic deflation and austerity. Also while a leftward political action shift was felt in the 1960's the 1970's witnessed a pattern of accelerated specialization in professions, including the academic ones, portending a beknighting influence on any working connection between and future of sociology and planning -- and fate of the sociologist-planner.
Overlapping the developments of the 1960's and 1970's however, were both direct and oblique developments of the 1970's and 1980's, indicating extended interest and activity, and an increasing affinity between sociologists and both theoretical and practical matters of planning and urban and regional policy.
There are at least four pieces of evidence of these latter developments: 1) the establishment of sociology of planning research and activity in the International Sociological Association (ISA) in 1970; 2) the increasing participation of sociologists in the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), established in the early 1970's; 3) the American Sociological Association's (ASA) ad hoc Committee on Housing and the Physical Environment; and 4) the ASA's 300-member section on Environmental Sociology, organized in 1976 (Skipper 1983).
(1) The ISA authorized the establishment of the Research Committee on Sociology of Regional and Urban Development (RC #21), following the Seventh World Congress of Sociology in Varna, Bulgaria, in 1970. The Committee members were sociologists from some forty-five countries around the world, including capitalist and socialist (Jenkins 1972a). The Research Committee's first publication was a collection of papers called "Town Planning as a Social Process" ( New Atlantis 1971). The beginning frameworks for the study of the sociology of planning and development was provided in the principal article by Janusz Zioklowski (1971) of Poland, the volume's editor and at that time, the (first) Research Committee president.4
Contributing further to this development were the ensuing efforts later in the 1970's of the Research Committee's North American Action Group (Jenkins and Carroll 1972); of Pickvance (1976) and Castells (1983), both Europeans; and still later John Zeisel (1981) then of Harvard, and Elizabeth Hutton of the University of California, Hayward. Other significant contributors in this period included Europeans Jiri Musil and Enzo Mingioni, and Australian J. Nalson. (All of these were preceded by the work in the 1960's of Maurice Broady (1968) in Britain.)
(2) Over the years since, American mainstream sociologists have come gradually closer to explicit interest in the sociology of planning and in related work, such as sociological aspects of environmental design (Jenkins 1980-81). A key means of the latter was the expanding research activity and attendant sociological networking within EDRA. Its explicit program aim and effort were to interface ideas and research professionals of the 'hard,' physical, intervention disciplines (architecture, planning, urban design, interior design, landscape architecture and geography) with those of the 'soft,' social, 'objective' disciplines (psychology, sociology, social-cultural anthropology, history and political science). The work and EDRA blossomed and flourished in the Seventies and since.
(3) The American Sociological Association witnessed two developments within its own organization in the 1970's and 1980's, one of them rather spontaneously: the Adhoc Committee on Housing and the Physical Environment, led by Elizabeth Hutton. The other was the ASA section on Environmental Sociology. Participants in these two now-defunct groups migrated to EDRA and particularly to the ISA.
(4) Environmental Sociology, the most recent of these groups in the 1970's and 1980's, appears to have been the vestibule through which many mainstream sociologists entered the general field of environmental design and planning in theoretical, research and applied activities.
Along this line of development in the early-to-middle 1980's, Sociological Inquiry devoted the entire double issue of its Spring/Summer numbers to the topic of environmental sociology, (Skipper 1983; Footnotes 1984.) The editor's note at the front end of the issue is instructive:
I indicated my intention of publishing issues on special topics which I considered were assuming importance for sociology in the 1980's. I intended to limit the space devoted to a special topic to one issue per year. I have reversed my decision in the case of environmental sociology. (So many of the manuscripts) were of high caliber ... Therefore, I decided on a double issue despite my former proclamation ... there are still a large number of sociologists and other social scientists interested in investigating problems of the environment. (Skipper 1983:i.)
In the February 1984 issue of ASA's Footnotes, James F. Short,
then ASA president, gave notice that his presidential address later in
the year would focus on "sociological perspectives on acceptable risk."
(Short 1984). He added that environmental sociologists were among the few
sociologists who had concerned themselves with risk assessment, especially
their interest in social impact assessment, "social policies, social
structures, and social process outcomes." (Short 1984:12).
The same issue of the ASA's Footnotes contained two prominently-featured articles about two sociologists involved not merely in applied sociology but specifically in planning and development, mainly in Third World countries. Michael Cernea, Senior Sociologist, with the World Bank (Howery 1984a); and sociologist Michael Q. Patton, who worked winters in various central and Latin American communities as part of the University of Minnesota's Caribbean Agricultural Extension Project (Howery 1984b). All of the foregoing developments suggest that recently and up to just before the 1990's sociologists took increasing interest in the sociology of planning, environmental sociology and related work -- a promising prospect, highly unlikely without the contributions of the early sociologist-planners.
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*The original and shorter version of this paper was presented
at the 28th Congress of the International Institute of Sociology in Albufeira,
Portugal, June 16-20, 1986. Special acknowledgements are made to Cheryl
Fuhrmann and Pamela Hoffman for assistance; to Amy Hubbard for helpful
comments and honest questions; to the late Reginald Isaacs for inspiration;
and deepest gratitude to Randy Stoecker, whose tough taskmastering worked
1. She was associated with several "men of the Chicago School" where she taught. In fact, Chicago sociology benefited from her Hull House field studies and reports such as Hull House Maps and Papers. Compounding the record of racial discrimination as to faculty, depicted by Blackwell and Janowitz (1974) and reflecting the gender bias against Addams at faculty level, as late as the late 1940's, the Chicago department included only two female graduate students! Deegan, earlier, reportedly felt that "Park disdained and discouraged the researches of women social scientists..." (Lyman 1992:143). This is confirmed indirectly by Dennis Smith (1988:114).
2. The substantiating reasons for not including Addams: (a) she was closer to being a social planner-as-sociologist than sociologist-as-planner; (b) Hull House (settlement house as community action agency) was the primary center of her work, not the University of Chicago (academic institution for theory, research and education); (c) rather, she may be likened to such urban-reform-based-on-social research figures as Charles Booth and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, all of England; and P. Kellog and Saul Alinsky, both of the U.S.
3. He was a native of Hungary but virtually all of his significant work was done in Germany and England.
4. The present author served two four-year terms as a vice president, successively under Presidents Ziolkowski, and Ray Pahl of England.
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