Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis has evolved as a result of several personal experiences with the practice of planning. These personal experiences preceded the actual writing of the thesis by several months, and provided me with the opportunity to search out literature which helped me to understand and correlate the relationships between the role of planners and the political, social, and economic constraints which impose certain limitations on that role. Rather than beginning with a structured format that comprised an outline of the entire thesis, each chapter builds organically off the preceding chapter, with the linkage often not appearing until the chapter has been completed. The thesis, therefore, is a personal statement, and though I am indebted to several people for their assistance and encouragement, the content is entirely my responsibility. The first chapter explains the personal experiences which morally forced me to examine the process and practice of planning and to question the purpose or ends which planners and planning methods serve. Planners generally must operate within certain overt and covert restraints, the limits and imposition of which are explored in the second chapter. The scope of the thesis, in the second chapter, enlarges its area of investigation from the inspection of isolated planning situations to encompass the United States social, political and economic structures and how those structures are designed to serve the interests of one class. Since philosophy creates the ideological basis for the development and support of societies' structures, the second chapter also examines the United States’ philosophical foundations. A Marxist interpretation of societal development is presented as an alternative to the structural model of society developed by the predominant ideologists. The Marxist model indicated that planners like other technicians who operate only within the boundaries established by the liberal ideology are easily manipulated to serve the interests of the ruling class. If planners seriously desire to serve the interests of the people, then major alterations in the social political and economic structures are necessary before such an objective is attainable. The third chapter examines the similarities and differences of capitalist and socialist systems in an effort to determine which elements in each system are suited to the creation of a society where every individual is permitted the freedom to control his own future. Realizing that a shift to socialism is not sufficient to liberate the individual from oppressive bureaucracies and inhumane conditions the later part of the chapter explores the advantages and deficiencies of the Chinese and Yugoslavian participatory decentralized, socialist economies, whose structural outlines may offer some insight into the operation of future decentralized societies. Before speculating on alternative tasks for planners under a participatory, decentralized socialism the fourth chapter returns to New Mexico and discusses the purpose and process of planning in the State and what direction that planning might take in the future. The final chapter terminates with a description of a hypothetical model of a participatory decentralized socialist society and the tasks or objectives that planners might perform in the interim between the present and the creation of a "new American society.”



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Richard Staab Nordhaus

Second Committee Member

John Gerald Borrego

Third Committee Member

Edith Ann Cherry

Included in

Architecture Commons