Spatial Planning in Kenya and the Appreciative Approach of Societal Values and Norms

Topics: Sociology, Culture, Urban planning Pages: 9 (2503 words) Published: May 31, 2013
Spatial Planning in Kenya and the Appreciative Approach of Societal Values and Norms

Said Athman

Nairobi, Kenya

February 2013


Cover Page

Table of Contents

Introduction Page 3

Values, Norms, Culture and Social Structure Page 3

Planning in the Context of Norms and Values Page 5

Conclusion Page 7

References Page 8


Friedmann in 2005 noted that urban and regional planning and development are to be understood and practiced differently depending on their institutional settings and cultural roots that vary significantly across countries and regions (Friedmann 2005, 29; CEC 1997). This statement remains true to date even in the face rapid globalization. Therefore there cannot be expected in any spatial planning processes to have two identical plans that is a result of different geographical and socio-cultural settings. Even if, in the rarest situation, this were to happen, this will be more in the exception.

It therefore begs the reverse question, as to what happens when values and norms are ignored in spatial planning. Could it be true that when planning is done, there is a complete absence of considerations of norms and value of a people, or could it be the omission by the planners to consciously and visibly highlight this criteria that in fact ensures that the norms and values of the planners themselves or the dominant community they belong to permeate and influence the planning process and product? Leonie Sandercock, in her paper, When Strangers Become Neighbours: Managing Cities of Difference makes an impressive review of this subject (Sandercock, 2000). One reason for the greater awareness of cultural contexts for urban and regional planning can be found in the ‘cultural turn’ in the 1990s which marked a watershed in recognising the significance of culture (and also space) compared to the discussions in the 1970s and 1980s when culture specific contexts and settings among nations and regions were neglected. Thus, Sandercock traces answers to this question from the work of the Royal Town Planning Institute which had, in 1992, commissioned researchers to explore the sensitivity of the British planning system to the needs of specific cultural communities. Their report, having surveyed over 100 local planning authorities, concluded that there was a great deal of ignorance of the existence and nature of racial/ethnic disadvantage in planning, and they recommended creating an institutional framework which would give greater priority to the issue (Krishnarayan & Thomas, 1993). This work inspired, certainly other similar studies in Australia and Canada which have drawn attention to a number of issues: from the overall failure of the planning system to respond to the increasing cultural diversity of the city, to the ways in which the values and norms of the dominant culture are reflected in plans, planning codes and bylaws, legislation, and heritage and urban design practices, to planners’ inability to analyse issues from a multicultural perspective or to design participatory processes that bring racial and ethnic groups into the planning process (Ameyaw, 2000, p. 105).

Values, Norms, Culture and Social Structure

In the preamble to the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), culture is defined as “…the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs”

Anna Katrina Davey in her Across Cultures website and articles describes culture in the following terms: “Culture is a framework of behavioural patterns, values, assumptions and experiences shared by a social group. Culture is a mostly automatically or unconsciously applied orientation system of collective values, which makes its group members’ behaviour comprehensible...
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