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http://www.archive.org/details/contentanalysisf37gutt



Council of Planning Librarians






EXCHANGE BIBLIOGRAPHY



December 1967




CONTENT ANALYSIS FOR CITY PLANNING LITERATURE



Professor Albert Z. Guttenberg, Bureau of Community Planning
and the Department of Urban Planning, University of Illinois



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INTRODUCT: -2- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37






Perhaps the best way to gain a comprehensive understanding of city planning
and the problems it deals with is by direct participation in the conduct of
urban affairs as a responsible planning official. Most people, however,
including most city planning students, have to rely on experiences at least
one remove from the "real thing." For the student enrolled in city planning
curricula, this something else is represented mainly by the studio course
and other exercises of a practical nature. In the process of making an
actual plan for a real or imagined city or part of a city, he runs up
against and has to cope with many of the typical planning problems which
vex modern communities and which form the hard core of controversy in urban
affairs. Such exercises usually proceed in a framework of regular course
work in which the subject of study is the planning process, its techniques,
and the institutional setting in which it occurs.

The present paper is concerned with another possible supplement to the core
program. Lacking a better term, it might be called the communications
approach, since the primary object of attention is not what city planners
do, or what they are supposed to do, but rather what they say. That is, it
consists of the study of the language and literature of city planning as an
object of theoretical interest in its own right. The record left behind as we
speak or write constitutes some of the prime evidence of what we are or
were, and of what we are becoming. Read rightly, therefore, this record
should add historical and sociological perspective to the strictly
technical perspective gained in the studio.

In order to explore this approach, the writer has since 196 5 been conduct-
ing an experimental seminar in planning language and literature in the
Department of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois. The course
covers both the internal and the external aspects of city planning lan-
guage and literature. As used here, "planning language and literature"
means primarily the more or less formal written or spoken statements which
practitioners make in order to communicate with each other about the city
and city planning. Examples are what appears in the AI? Jour nals , in the
published ASPO Annual Conference Proceedings, in textTfooks and in technical
reports. Other types of literature, although falling within the purview of
the seminar, have thus far received less attention — for example, statements
directed by planners to non-planners, both lay and profess ional, or state-
ments about planning which originate outside professional planning circles,
as in newspapers or in the journals of other professions.

The external dimensions of the primary (i.e., professional to professional)
literature are those that are in some way susceptible to objective observation
and measurement, as by the familiar techniques of content analysis. The
internal dimensions are those aspects that cannot really be measured, but
which can only be guessed at, discussed and debated. For any piece of
literature, the objective dimensions consist of the following: what is said
(the ostensible subject or thematic content); who said it (the author and his
characteristics); how it is said (the styleV, and with what effect (the
traces it leaves in non- planning literature). The internal dimension consist
of the basic meaning or intent behind the words.



-3- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37

The subject here is the use of content analysis and other analytic techniques
for the systematic study of the objective side of planning literature. In
addition to bibliographical material that the author has found helpful, it
includes an illustrative research program for students composed of a set of
projects directed at the following questions: Is the subject matter of city
planning changing? Is it changing its methodology? Is the influence of
planning thought growing? Are the people losing touch with professional
planning thought? The projects themselves, far from being finished study
designs, are intended to serve as points of departure for the development of
more refined procedures. Although most of the topics are framed in terms of
the AIP Journal , it is understood that any other body of serial professional
planning literature may be substituted.

RESEARCH PROGRAM (ILLUSTRATIVE)

THE THEMATIC CONTENT OF PLANNING LITERATURE

Public Concerns Represented

The terminology of planning is said to be changing, and not merely the termi-
nology, but also the subject matter, the type of social issue or concern
emphasized. A decade ago, for example, "the transportation problem" was
represented more frequently in the literature. Now bigger issues are "open
space," "poverty," etc. This is not to suggest that the former concern has
been entirely eclipsed or supplanted, but only that a shift of attention has
taken place. The purpose of this project is to see if some empirical basis
can be found for the hypothesis that in the past forty years there have been
some significant changes in the types of public concern represented in the
city planning literature.

Develop a short list of major issues or concerns, (e.g. the transportation
crisis; race conflict; slums and blight, etc.) Using the AIP Journal or any
body of serial planning literature determine how many article titles can be
classified under each concern. To make the connection between title and issue
develop also a list of key words. Tabulate observations by ten-year periods
beginning with 1925, in terms of percentages of total articles for each
period. Summarize, describe and discuss findings. When does a particular
issue or concern flourish and when does it seem to fade out? Does this
fading out indicate a waning of the issue and as issue in the society at
large? Explain the rise and decline of issues with reference to events in the
planning world and in the world at large. Consider the effect of the method-
ology on your findings. Were they biassed by relying on titles, alone?

Techniques of Control and Analysis

Our assumption above is that planning is, in some sense, a response to the
public issues of the day. But what about the strictly technical concerns of
planning — e.g., zoning, subdivision control, building codes, etc.? What all
these have in common is that they are used by planners to control urban
physical development.



-4- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37

Generally speaking, there are threebroad methods of control available to
planners: persuasion or inducing private parties to take a required action
(information, eduction, and demonstration techniques); coercion or forcing
private parties to take an action or refrain from one (zoning; subdivision
controls, codes, etc.); and tactical methods which neither persuade nor
coerce, but which change the economic or physical environment of private
action (e.g. tax and monetary measures, certain kinds of public facilities
planning and programming, etc.). A survey of the planning literature should
show some significant changes in emphasis over the years among and within
these threebroad classes.

Develop the above classification of control techniques in greater detail.
Otherwise, construct one of your own. Go through all AIP Journals and using
titles as indicators select the articles which have some technical control
as their primary subject. Classify the same according to the techniques of
control represented. Summarize and describe findings for the total survey
period, 1925-66, and for each ten-year sub-period. Relate the findings to
the recent history of city planning and to such subjects as "the welfare
state," individual freedom," etc.

A second kind of technical concern involves methods for studying the city as
a scientific object, for example land use classification, land use forecasting,
and D surveys, public- opinion analysis, Lynchian perceptual analysis. In
this area, too, we should expect to find changes in emphasis.

Complete the above list and organize it into more general classes, as in the
case of techniques of control. Using article titles as indicators identify
and classify all analytic technique articles. At the same time scan each
article to determine its probable usefulness to the average daily practitioner.
State the criteria of useability. Summarize and describe findings for the
total survey period and for each ten-year sub-period.

Professional Affairs

"The city planning profession, like most adolescents is self-conscious. It
worries about its appearance, it strikes poses, it adopts and discards heroes,
it revolts against its parents while depending on them. It tries, in short,
to establish its own identity." (Alonz..) Study city planning' s concern
with its identity (what is planning?); ixs legitimacy (does it encroach on
other fields?); its competence (are planners prepared to plan?); and its
directions ("social" vs. "physical" planning). A survey of planning
literature may show definitive changes from period to period as to which of
these concerns is uppermost.

Make a record of all articles in the AIP Journal bearing on professional
affairs. Include all articles which have the following subjects as their
main theme: nature of planning; theory of planning; philosophy of planning;
origin or history of planning; education of planners; organization of plann-
ing; licensing; ethics; responsibility to the people; public relations.
Using these or more general categories (see above) tabulate the results of
the survey by 10 year periods. Describe trends in professional self-
consciousness.



-5- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37



Geographic Scope



Another aspect of the thematic content of planning literature concerns its
geographic range of reference as indicated by the percentage of total articles
in each period which have as their principle subject a definite place on the
earth's surface (a continent, a country, a region, a city, etc.). Our pre-
liminary assumption will be that whereas formerly U.S. place references were
concentrated in the northeast and foreign references in Great Britain, the
focus in each case is now changing.

To test this assumption divide the U. S. into zones of reference — northeast,
southeast, etc. (or any other type of zone which you think is more signifi-
cant). Make a list of all articles with place names in their titles.
Determine what percentage of total "place-articles" fall into ?ech zone for
the years 1925-66 as a whole and also for each ten-year sub-period. Plot
them on a rough map. Do the same for the rest of the world , oiiLy in this case
let the unit (zone) be the individual country. Describe and explain trends.
Are certain places underrepresented? Why? What accounts for changing geo-
graphic reference in the American case — population shift? Political power?
Journal editorship? What accounts for it in the non-American case? Foreign
policy? Foreign city planning activity?

INTELLECTUAL SOURCES

Authorship

When the type of people who produce the literature of a profession changes,
there is good reason to believe that the influence of the profession and the
role it plays in the society as a whole will also change. There are some
who contend that the intellectural sources of planning language and litera-
ture are changing. They say that the social scientist is replacing the
designer as the typical authority or spokesman; the responsible government
official or bureaucrat is replacing the less rule-bound citizen or lay planner;
academics and consultants are increasing. Other hypotheses might be investi-
gated, for example, that there are more foreign influences (authors) than
formerly; or that the percentage of non-AIP members among authors is increas-
ing. If true, what would all these facts imply for the effect of planning on
government? for the professional organization of planners? for planning
education?

To study trends in article authorship use the biographical notes in the AIP
Journal . A supplementary source might be the AIP rosters. Construct an
author classification by kind of profession (e.g. economist, sociologist,
political scientist, planner; academic vs. non-academic; AIP member vs. non-
member; native vs. foreign; etc.). Tabulate findings and present them in
terms of percentages for each ten-year period. Is there a relationship be-
tween the kinds of people who say things and the kinds of things said in the
articles. For this correlate findings with research on public concerns or
issues.



-6- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37

Authorities Cited

Authorship is not the only evidence of intellectual sources. Another indi-
cation of changing sources would be the references in planning literature
to the work of non-planning authorities. Is it reasonable to hypothecate
that the planner is making more use of the work of the social scientist or
physical scientist than formerly, or is it that these scientist types are
becoming more interested in urban affairs?

Analyze the book reviews in the AIP Journals . What are the books and who are
the authors held up as authorities by being included in the book review
sections? Classify them by profession. Include the planning profession to
measure the extent of self- reference as opposed to reference to "foreign"
authors. Tabulate findings by ten-year periods and describe the trends. For
example, what percentage of the total number of books reviewed in the period
1955-64 were by economists? by sociologists? by geographers?, etc.

STYLE

Modes of Expression

Where words fail there is always the possibility of photographs, diagrams,
maps, statistical tables, mathematical symbols, and even cartoons and cari-
catures. Sometimes they are used to supplement words and sometimes to replace
words (as mathematical notation is used in the Regional Science literature).
This is an aspect of non-verbal language use to be carefully noted since it
may be an indication of the extent to which planning literature is becoming
technicalized. However, the basic hypothesis to be tested here is that the
mode of expression of planning literature is changing, that the non-verbal
forms of language are becoming more common.

Construct a systematic classification of expression modes. Include words,
pictures, numbers, mathematical symbols. Apply the classification to every
issue of the AIP Journal . How many articles consist of words alone? How
many include only pictures in addition to words (i.e. photos, maps, drawings,
etc.)? How many reach the point of graphs or statistical tables? How many
go so far as to have at least one instance of algebraic notation? Tabulate
findings and describe by period in terms of percentages. Is there any evi-
dence that the use of non-verbal modes is increasing? What about particular
non-verbal devices (equations, graphs)? Are they increasing? If so, does
this mean that the literature of planning is becoming more esoteric, less
subject to surveillance and hence to control by the people affected? less
intelligible to and therefore less useful to the average daily practitioner?
Or is the quantitative trend, if one exists, offset by a rising level of
technical education?

Readability

It was suggested above (see Modes of Expression) that planning literature
may be going beyond popular control and surveillance by becoming less intelli-
gible to the average lay rea-der. This is only an hypothesis, but it can be
explored further by testing the readability of the verbal content itself.



-7- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37

No one has yet produced a fool-proof test of readability. One of the better
and more widely used methods was invented by Rudolph Flesch (see Bibliography).
The Flesch Test is comparatively easy to understand and use. Apply this
technique to a sample from the AIP Journal, say every one hundredth article
page. Compare the readability of pages from different periods. Are there
any trends discernible? Is planning literature becoming more difficult to
understand? Is this an unavoidable trend? a desirable one?

Other Aspects of Style

Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird
Or but a wandering voice?
— Wordsworth

State the alternative preferred
With reasons for the choice.
— Townsend

The Flesch Test measures only one aspect of style — its readability. Study
also some of the more elusive aspects. How often, for example, does one
meet with instances of wit or humor in the planning literature, or with other
signs of humanity (e.g. use of the personal pronoun)?

Construct a simple classification of article style (e.g. hot-tip; newsy;
folksy; poetic; scholarly, etc.). Apply to all articles in the survey period.
Observe trends and discuss. Is the literature becoming more or less personal?
more or less excited? more or less polemical?



RESPONSE TO PLANNING LITERATURE



Content analysis is a form of communications research and communications
research is concerned not only with who says what to whom and how, but also
with the effect of what is said — audience response. Effect may be thought of
in terms of sheer magnitude (the extent or amount of the response) as well as
in terms of the quality of the response (e.g. favorable or unfavorable). This
phase of the inquiry is concerned only with the factor of magnitude, although
no one is precluded from investigating the more subtle factor of quality if
he can devise ways of measuring it empirically. Go on the assumption that one
dimension of the response to what is said by planners is adequately measured
by the number of AIP titles which can be found in certain general reference
sources such as the Public Affairs Information Service Bulletin or the Inter-
national Index. The main hypothesis will be that the number ot such references
is growing and that therefore the impact of planning literature on a certain
segment of its potential audience is increasing. A secondary hypothesis will
be that certain subjects in the literature are receiving greater attention
than others and part of the job will be to identify these more successful
subjects.

Count and tabulate the number of references to AIP articles appearing each
year in the PAIS Bulletin under the following headings: City Planning;



-8- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37

County Planning; Business Districts: Community Development; Decentralization;
Garden Cities; Green Belts; Housing; Industrial Districts; Land Utilization;
Metropolitan Areas; Municipal Improvements; Neighborhood Planning; New Towns;
Open Space; Redevelopment; Regional Planning; Shopping Centers; Slums; Zoning.
Describe trends for all references (as a whole) as well as for references
under individual headings above. Is the number of total references per year
increasing? Is more note being taken of some subjects than others? If so,
does this reflect the interest of the PAIS users or does it rather reflect
the composition of the AIP Jou rnal itself?

Extend the inquiry from the PAIS Bulletin to the official organs of the
various social science professional associations. Look for references to the
AIP Journal (footnotes, etc.) in the periodicals listed below. Cover the
past ten years. Are AIP references more common in some journals than others?
Describe and discuss your findings.

Journal of the American Institute of Architects

Land Economics

Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Traffic Quarterly

Ekistics (count reprint and abstracts)

Regional Science Journal

American Sociological Review

American Economic Review

American Political Science Review

Economic Geography

ANALYSIS OF THE NON-PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE

All of the research topics above focus on the AIP Journal or other pro-
fessional sources. For the sake of perspective, the non -professional
sector of the literature should not be ignored. The opportunities for
studying the treatment of planning topics in the non-professional sector,
especially in the popular press, are too numerous to describe here con-
cisely. Consider one of the following. For other possibilities use your own
imagination or consult Berelson' s work listed in the Bibliography.

1) Analyze the image of planning conveyed to the public through
the popular press. Choose any local, regional or national
newspaper and analyze its coverage of planning news for the
past ten years. Describe the changes found in subject matter
(e.g. highway planning, housing, etc.) in importance accorded
to the articles (e.g. front versus back page coverage, length
of article, etc.) as well as in other factors. What other
factors?



-9- CPL Exchange Bibliography 37



2) Compare the treatment of planning news in a "conservative"
weekly (e.g. Time Magazine or The National Observer ) with
the treatment in a "liberal" weekly (e.g. The Nation or
T.he New Republic ).

3) Compare the treatment of planning in the press of two
rational regions (e.g. the North and the South).

4) Analyze the treatment of planning topics in the Negro
press, or in the press of any other racial, ethnic, or
religious group.















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Online LibraryAlbert Z GuttenbergContent analysis for city planning literature (Volume Committee of Planning Librarians. Exchange bibliography, no. 37) → online text (page 1 of 2)