Increase font size Default font size Decrease font size


WhereAbout: Homepage Home Sitemap

TÜBA - Foresights Concerning Settlement Sciences / Studies

E-mail Print


A decision was passed during the meeting of the Academic Council held on October 5, 2002, regarding the performance of a foresight work in the area of Urban Sciences – Planning , under the coordination of İlhan Tekeli. Accordingly, a commission was formed under the leadership of İlhan Tekeli, consisting of Prof. Dr. Ali Türel, Prof. Dr. Ayda Eraydın, Associate Prof. Dr.Gülden Berkman, Associate Prof. Dr. Murat Güvenç, Associate Prof. Dr. Tarık Şengül, and Assistant Prof. Dr. Ela Babalık. The Commission members have first reached a consensus on the methodology to be adopted regarding the subject matter, and subsequently, all commission members have conducted separate foresight projects in their own areas of specialization. Following joint discussions, the results of these projects were published in the form of reports. Consequently, the present report was prepared as the synthesis of the foresight studies conducted by the individual members. A final foresight report will be prepared after the present report is presented to the concerned stakeholders for a systematic discussion.
The commission has primarily attempted to ensure clarity on the determination of the limits of its own area of study. A discussion consisting of four stages was required regarding this subject matter.
In the First Stage, an emphasis was laid onthe limitation of the scope of the study on urban areas. The etymology of the term “urbanization” is historically rooted in the contrast between urban areas (cities) and rural areas (villages). This contrast is relevant to both characteristics of settlement and the culture of everyday life. However, in countries that are undergoing a process of transformation into knowledge societies, this contrast has significantly disappeared, both from the standpoint of the characteristics of settlement, and also in terms of the culture of everyday life. In knowledge societies, the rate of urbanization has practically reached one hundred percent. Turkey is also rapidly experiencing such a transformation. Evidently, Turkey will achieve a significant progress regarding this process within the oncoming period of twenty years.
Therefore, in a period when the contrast between the urban areas and rural areas is still visible and meaningful, it will be appropriate to reemphasize the general concept of “settlement”, which encompasses both urban and rural settlements. In a foreseeable future, all settlements will be transformed into urban landscape in terms of culture of everyday life. In this sense, these two concepts are becoming identical to a great extent. Therefore, the appropriate way will be to use the term settlement in an indiscriminate manner as a general concept.
There are various justifications for adopting such an approach. The first one refers to the problems inherent in the redefinition of the concept of the “city” by isolating the concept from its opposite. The term “village” has become a historical category and its change is out of question. Consequently, the redefinition of the contents of a concept that is etymologically based on this contrast, will inevitably implicate various problems. The second justification is even more important than the first one. The use of the term “settlements” in the formulation of the environmental policies to be developed for the solution of the environmental problems that are increasingly gaining importance, will be more functional. Hence, during the development   of a discourse for these policies, putting the emphasis on the contrast between the “settlement areas vs. unsettled areas” will provide certain important advantages.
However, as the reader can note, throughout the report, the term “urban” has not been entirely eliminated, For, the elimination of the term “urban” which is a widely used concept, will adversely affect the comprehensibility of the report. Therefore, the use of the term “urban” in the context of the past and the present, will signify its content for the cultural difference relating to the culture of everyday life. Whereas, when the term “urban” is used in the context of the future, it needs to be noted that it will no longer emphasize the distinction urban and the rural, or the city and the village.
In the Second Stage, we have elaborated on the context of the wording “urban sciences-planning” beyond the term “urban”. In our discipline, the term “urban studiesis used to refer a well established study area for many years. In fact, it is an established term, and its context includes the studies conducted in the area of “humanities”, as much as the scientific studies. Whereas, during the recent years it has also been noted that the concept of “urban sciences” is extensively used by various circles. In an intellectual climate that is characterized by the criticism of the modernist approaches and the vanishing of the borders between the tradition of science and the tradition of humanities, the reasons underlying the attempts to introduce a distinction for the urban sciences rather than using a terms such as “urban studies” that can function as an umbrella, need a careful investigation.
It may be considered that there are three reasons behind the emphasis on the category of urban (settlements) sciences. The first reason is related to the concern to be effective in practical matters. The emphasis on settlement sciences attempts to denote the use of this science in the resolving and planning of urban problems. Here, the principal motive is to develop an engineering perspective in the formulation of solutions. The second reason is based on the assumption that each settlement offers an appropriate space for research and investigation. This assumption should not be conceived merely as a practical method that would facilitate the work of researchers in their studies. In a world that has developed a much better understanding and appreciation on the significance of distinction of a universal and tacit knowledge during the process of transformation into knowledge society, settlement offer an ideal platform on which the universal and tacit knowledge can be confronted. The third reason is based on the argument that settlements encompass solidarity and a high level of interaction amongst its members. Obviously, this solidarity cannot be construed to the extent of the analogy of an organic solidarity as has been assumed in the social sciences during the previous century.
The studies that we have conducted to this date, reveal that our main area of interest will consist of “scientific activities/projects centered on the organization, development and governance of the living spaces in a settlement that forms a community” Obviously, since a settlement cannot exist in isolation, and since it is located within a system of settlements, the interrelations among different settlements are also included within the scope of our work.
The third stage has been focused on the nature of the activities included within the scope of this area. We articulate the diverse branches of science included within our area of studies through the adding of the terms “urban” or “local” as prefixes to the established scientific disciplines that claim universality, such as, urban sociology, urban economy, local administration, etc. This issue demands a special emphasis. For, if the claim of universality of the science of economy is valid; then, it can be asserted that the mention of a separate urban economy shall not create a serious differentiation. In fact, many different arguments can be set forth to demand the validity of such a separate area. One of these arguments would be to lay emphasis on specialization focused on problem solving. According to this argument, urban problems implicate certain special economic problems, and accordingly, it is highly appropriate to become specialized in problems of this type. In this context, only a practical benefit becomes in question, without the assertion of any claims concerning scientific difference.
Another approach argues that while the spatial dimension in settlements is of primary importance, this dimension is generally overlooked by the classical scientific disciplines.   For example, in the classical theories of economy, it is generally assumed that all phenomena are concentrated on one pinpoint, and all solutions are attempted to be formulated according to such an assumption. Obviously, the adding of a geographical dimension, in other words, the spatial dimension will enhance the viability of the theories in the regulation of settlement systems. Such an argument has a claim to be different. However, this difference cannot be construed as a radical difference, but rather as the “fulfillment of a missing link”, or as the emergence or the visibility of an aspect that was overlooked or indiscernible in the past. In a sense, the defense is on the universal rather than the local.
Another advocate of difference in another horizon, supports the argument that the approaches that are necessary for the solution of local problems, must be interdisciplinary.Obviously, this argument is more emphatic in its claim to be different. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to conceive this difference exclusively from the standpoint of problems relating to settlement. It rather involves the paraphrasing of a more general problem within the scale of locality. The concept of “scientific development for the sake of science” developed within von Humboldian research universities had resulted in the emergence of a stringent interdisciplinary specialization. The borders of the different disciplines were unsurpassable. In this university, which did not really commit itself to the resolving of practical problems, this issue did not create a serious predicament.   Whereas, in the multiversity that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, as the formulation of solutions to the existing problems became a major concern, the existence of the impenetrable walls between the different disciplines began to be perceived as barriers that need to be overcome, and the multidisciplinary approaches were once again in the agenda. One of the areas where multidisciplinary approach was encouraged was urban problems and city planning. 
Having an interdisciplinary perspective means having an important difference from the orthodox views. However, the implementation of interdisciplinary approaches in the areas of city planning and urban problems, has a history that dates to more than forty years. During this period, the significant drawback of a complacent posture, merely adhering to a multidisciplinary approach has become evident. For, in that sense, adherence to a multidisciplinary approach became synonymous with an incompetence to develop original theories and to become dependent on theories developed by other scientists for other purposes. Consequently, multidisciplinary approach in this area became characterized by a vast eclecticism.
Finally, we would like to elaborate on the aspects of the studies concerning settlements that concur with the settlement plans, and the interpretations that distinguish this area from the other areas. The term “Urbanism” used in Turkish language is highly instructive in showing this concurrence. In the first book published in Turkey by a Turkish scholar on the subject matter; Urbanism is defined as “A new science that accumulates knowledge that is required to help the people to build sustainable places for habitation, in a manner that is most appropriate to their daily lives and their working lives.[1]”. This definition contains a definitely normative tone. Whereas, in today's definitions of urbanism, this normative aspect remains rather understated. The reason for this approach is highly relevant to the fact that the modernist way of thinking considers the areas of science, ethics and esthetics as autonomous areas that are irreducible to each other. During the periods when urbanism had a normative aspect, city planning was to a great extent considered as mastery in designing. From this perspective, urbanism is an ethical issue rather than a scientific concept. Hence, compromising with the normative was not a very serious problem. Meanwhile, in the years that followed 1960's, when city planning had begun to be conceived as a field of activity based on social sciences, safeguarding of the normative aspect within the definition was no longer possible due to the approach of modernity towards science. From then on, the normative dimension was to be determined separately in the ethical domain; and for the realization of the normative, scientific knowledge was to be employed within the logic of instrumental rationality. Hence, the actions concerning city planning were to be directed on this basis.
In today's world, where the understanding of social sciences of modernity, based on objective representations is subject to serious refutations, where a critical realism in social sciences is bourgeoning and affecting the urban planning approaches, it can be asserted that there is now no reason to exclude the normative. When the viability of the social sciences within critical realism is based on inter-subjective consensus, the normative is also based on inter-subjective consensus, and consequently, the uncompromising polarity between the normative and the scientific has disappeared. In fact, the ultimate object in urban planning is no more the attainment of instrumental rationality, but rather the attainment of communicative rationality.   In planning actions, the dichotomy between means and ends have disappeared and both became dependent on inter-subjectivity. All these developments obviously highlight the significance of mentioning and differentiating a science of settlements. However, in such a circumstance, differentiating the science of settlements from the studies concerningsettlements will not be very meaningful.
This development marks a very significant progress in this area. It is rather difficult to assert that it has accomplished its full potential. The understanding of the importance of local information in the domain of information, the progress of communicative rationality, the replacement of the representative democracy by participatory democracy, the replacement of the concept of government by governance, the suggestion of strategic planning rather than planning based on comprehensive rationality, are among the interrelated developments achieved in this direction.
In the fourth stage, our emphasis is focused on what we understand by the development of a “foresight” in this area of study with respect the activities in Turkey. Here, the issue in question is not a “prediction”, as this would be impossible; but rather a “forecasting”. Here, the effort is to identify a point that takes into consideration the existing trends of development while orienting towards the future, but that does not acquiesce with the point that these trends would lead us; intervening these trends with normative concerns, and that aspires to lead us to a better position. In other words, in a sense, foresight also encompasses a vision. Obviously, the fact that the area of settlement sciences/studies has pragmatic and normative characteristics as we have mentioned above, facilitates its compatibility with such a concept of foresight. Definitely, since the research in question was in the nature of a forecast rather than a prediction, instead of a single foresight, we will be mentioning more that one foresights, in other words, a series of alternative foresights..
How will it be possible to develop such a range of foresights? Since the settlement sciences/studies claim to be effective in the practical sense, the foresights in this area must be developed concurrently with the foresights of the developments to be experienced in practice. Therefore, the following course of action has been decided for this study.
The First Stage: Will be focused on the determinations regarding the evolution of the mode of settlements in the world and the probable outcome of this trend during the next two decades. In this stage, the issues to be discussed will include, the determining characteristics of the technological developments, the types of transformation created in the spatial distribution of the settlements and within the inner differentiations of the settlements, the new and potential problems that might be created by such transformation and their probable effects on the agendas of the research, the probable reflections of such transformation in countries like Turkey, which can monitor such developments with limited resources and within a time interval, etc. 
The Second Stage will include researches on the type of restructuring process that is undergone by the government and governance system in the world. Since the object of the settlement sciences/studies is to develop ways of intervention to the problems, the identification of the existing problems will not be adequate, and it will be necessary to show the trends of how the ethics relating to the ethics on intervention change. The topics to be discussed under this section include, the changes that have occurred in the perception and identification of the existing problems by the societies, the evolvement of the objectives such as the improvement of the quality of life, implementation of human rights, etc., the reasons underlying the emergence of the NGO's and other social subjects in the struggle against problems, the methods by which the decision making processes in interventions are restructured, the reasons underlying the replacement of the concept of government by the concept of governance, etc.
The Third Stage will include researches on the new understandings of knowledge in the process of transformation to knowledge society and the developments concerning the role of knowledge. The topics to be discussed under this section include the new connotations of the interaction between knowledgeand locality, the improvements introduced by GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and other information systems, the opportunities created by the new forms of representation developed in the area settlement sciences/studies in the understanding of the phenomena and in the shaping of the forms of intervention
The preparations that are conducted within the scope of these three stages will enable us to become ready to take this issue in the context of Turkey. During the subsequent stages of the study, we will be formulating solutions from the perspective of Turkey.
The Fourth Stage will focus on the problems of settlements and governance that have priority in the agenda of Turkey. Obviously, there will be certain parallel issues between these problems and the developments that take place in the world. It can be assumed that the globalization of the world may enhance such effects. However, it must also be kept in mind that the globalization of the world is also concomitant with the increasing trend of localization. Such a perspective will entail certain approaches that are more complex that an effort to understand the difference between the developments that are taking place throughout the world and the events that are occurring in Turkey through a mere lapse of time. 
The Fifth Stage: During this stage, we will aim to describe and analyze the, forms of institutionalization and their potentials of settlement science/studies through schools, journals, professional practices. Here, the object is make a forecasts regarding the capacity and the type of reaction of the concerned community in Turkey vis-à-vis the existing problems and the developments experienced throughout the world. For the attainment of this object, researches will be conducted to identify the relations of this community with the problems, the type of relations between the scientific and the professional circles in Turkey with the developments in the world, and the probable alternative scenarios regarding these issues.
The Sixth Stage: During this stage, various proposals will be developed. The first proposal will consist of scientific foresights. Within this framework, a “research program” will be developed as a foresight concerning settlements and their governance. Obviously, having such a foresight will entail new areas of research and new priorities. The second phase of these proposals will focus on discussions concerning the arrangements that need to be introduced on the institutional framework regarding the settlement sciences/studies for the realization of this foresight.

[1] Celal Esat Arseven:Şehircilik (Urbanizm), Devlet Basımevi, İstanbul,1937,s.4.


Error: Cannot find thumbs folder used by FBoxBot