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Constructing professional knowledge: the Neighborhood Unit concept in the community builders handbook

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Title: Constructing professional knowledge: the Neighborhood Unit concept in the community builders handbook
Author(s): Brody, Jason S.
Director of Research: Talen, Emily
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Talen, Emily
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Hopkins, Lewis D.; Hays, David L.; Pallathucheril, Varkki G.
Department / Program: Urban & Regional Planning
Discipline: Regional Planning
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Neighborhood unit professional knowledge urban planning neighborhood planning diffusion
Abstract: This dissertation concerns the diffusion of Clarence Perry’s Neighborhood Unit concept between 1929 and 1969. It is grounded in a discourse analysis of the use of the Neighborhood Unit concept in the literature of twenty professional and governmental organizations. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, the Neighborhood Unit was influential primarily in advancing the changes in development practices advanced by Adams and institutionalized by the FHA: planning and development by district rather than by lot, provisioning of infrastructure concurrent with subdivision, inclusion of community functions in residential development, and a hierarchical street system with arterial roads at the unit’s edge. Other aspects of the concept – Perry’s advocacy of home owners associations, for instance – had less of an impact. I argue that a pragmatic view of professional knowledge is necessary to understand this history. A pragmatic view of knowledge helps explain the Neighborhood Unit concept’s roles as a boundary object communicating information across professional communities and as a lever of change catalyzing the adoption of new practices, regulations, and ways of thinking. Perry’s Neighborhood Unit concept was a leading idea in urban planning and development in America in the twentieth century, but it was less a paradigm then a leading meme that evolved along with the practices it addressed.
Issue Date: 2010-01-06
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/14704
Rights Information: Copyright 2009 Jason S. Brody
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-01-06
2012-01-07
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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