"Don't Let Them Immanentize the Eschaton" and the North American City: Competing Discourses over Social Planning in the Journal of the American Planning Association, 1936–2000
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AbstractIn the mid-twentieth century new conservatives weaponized anti-Gnostic discourse to condemn pro-social planning. As such, I illustrate how this rhetoric became a useful tool by pro-market advocates to transform North American planning into a device that reflects and produces neoliberalization. To do this, I use content-analysis to investigate the competing mid-twentieth century discourses within the Journal of American Planning Association from 1936–2000. By the early 1970s, there is a clear epistemic shift within the journal revealing the ever-growing influence of anti-social/pro-market discourse. Within this shift planners began to utilize anti-Gnostic rhetoric to characterize pro-social planners as utopian and therefore politically dangerous. By the end of the twentieth century, pro-market discourse dominated planning—and pro-social planners were left feeling nostalgic toward the pro-social past of their practice, even employing “counter-planning” to protest this ideological shift. My findings, in confirming the presence of anti-social planning discourse within mid-twentieth century planning, encourages further research to be carried out on the political influence of the new conservative anti-Gnostic rhetoric in urban reform in the mid-twentieth century.
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