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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dilemmas in a General Theory of Fieldwork


Rittel and Webber’s article “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning” serves as a valuable guide today as Western planners increasingly study and work in the global South. In addition to the complex processes within each city and urban regime, and the challenge of studying and trying to understand those processes, there is the “wicked” ethical problem of the Western planners own role and commitments within cities set off as different. For instance, how does the Western planner reconcile a desire to learn and listen with Western planning’s strong normative opposition to segregation?

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