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Title: How do master planners think? : a sociomaterial inquiry
Author: Bourbon-Parme, Shira de
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 8004
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis is an inquiry into master planning culture in everyday practice. It asks how master planners collectively make sense of and achieve complex tasks, or more to the point, how do planners think? Attending to how planners think rather than what they think about, shifts the discussion away from urban matters and design decisions, towards the study of cultures of practice. Drawing from a distributed cognition approach, the study is concerned with the sociomaterial basis of thought, wherein people, materials, their spatial environments and temporal perceptions are entangled in an emerging cultural system. Over the course of eight months of participant observation and 38 ethnographic interviews, the study followed the making of three planning artefacts - a model, drawing and report - to consider their performative roles in sociomaterial arrangements and perceptions of time and space. In the making of boundary objects, the teams of planners internalize the boundaries of the task enacting contingent relationships with others and enfolding agential properties of uncertainties into coordinated practices. The findings show that planners do not try to avoid uncertainty but think through modes of adapting and attending to it, generating temporary contexts of confidence. On the basis of these findings and the method of inquiry, I outline three contributions this thesis makes to planning practice literature: it proposes a method of addressing the internal coordination of teams of planners and their cognitive complexities, rarely addressed in the literature; it focuses on an observable unit of study, which enables the analysis of the uncertain, ambiguous and absent dimensions entangled in planning thought; and lastly, it renders the concept of a planning culture amenable to reflexive conceptions of everyday practice. This approach provides insights into the multiple ways in which master planners conceive of and enact the ecology of planning in which they are embedded.
Supervisor: Rayner, Steve Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available