Architecture and Planning ETDs


Susan Dreier

Publication Date



This thesis describes a process or investigation of the presumptions that structure the attitudes and interactions in the field of architecture/planning. Architecture/planning is described, in relation to defined criteria, as a system which maintains academic and professional hierarchies and white perpetuates itself and its self interests. The resulting definitions of problems, solutions and roles within the field are directly linked to the controlling social, political and economic interests that are the status quo. Certain mechanisms direct and maintain the activities of the field in the process of development. For example, the parameters of the low-income housing problem have been traditionally defined by the degree to which they are approachable by the expert, whose role is defined as designing and solving problems for people rather than facilitating the development of environments by people. Presumptions that structure the definitions for the actors and activities in architecture/planning are reflections of underlying value systems. The position of objectivity which is utilized to describe these value systems represents a basic value of separation, manifest in scientists’ ability to separate their work from the social implications of that work.

The value placed on separation is part of a patriarchal value system, created and maintained by and for men. The male culture is rooted in false boundaries established by the male impulse, the most central of which is the false division of people – human beings – into the Selves, the masculine stereotype, and the Others, the feminine stereotype. These artificial boundaries deny whole human being and rationalize the controlling power of men, maleness, over women, femaleness. All forms – institutions, philosophies, social systems – are rooted in this system of sexism. Ideologies, such as religion and psychology, rationalize and justify male supremacy.

The choices that remain in the wake of such analysis include a rejection of traditional roles as they are defined by a male culture. In reaffirming femininity, culturally and personally, people turn their backs on the false description that is patriarchy, and reject the definitions of selves and lives that are, in reality, only painful half-lives. In affirming that feelings, women’s experiences and ontological reason must merge with rational thought, people can begin to create an androgynous and more whole human experience.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

John Gerald Borrego

Second Committee Member

Edith Ann Cherry

Third Committee Member


Included in

Architecture Commons