Special of the week; Issue 5-70 "Looking for a Decent Future"
NDE or the national educational radio network presents special of the week from Yale University from its series called Yale reports. One fact of life is that nobody much enjoys being told what to do. Consequently there are many difficulties with social and economic planning. One of the most troublesome aspects of the case is when everybody tries to respond to the wish for a better future perhaps for others as well as for themselves to meet these expectations. A professional planner was invented when he operated alone. However his influence was often disastrous. People want to participate in the planning of their own futures. But how to do it. How do you mobilise a person's expectations for the future. Here are some experienced people who see a way. Chris Archer is his professor and chairman of the department of administrative sciences. Joseph Goldson is executive director of the conciliar mon International and area studies and Harold Laswell is Ford Foundation professor of law and the social sciences. Mr. Gholson.
We're here today do try to get a bit more pointed delineation of some of the reasons behind an atmosphere in the country. And I suppose around the world which seems to have been heightened considerably in the last oh 10 20 years a kind of tension that seems to arise between high levels of hope expectation desire claim on what there is to go around in our society and the ability of this society to achieve or to accomplish those goals or satisfy those hopes very dramatically this takes the form for example we see in the know of men walking on the moon and we can safely cross the street or get from New Haven to New York on time if at all. The gap between what technology and science is capable of and the distribution of the social benefits deriving from such matters.
We could point to countless examples maybe more will come out. Many efforts I think we would all agree have been made by government by universities by individuals foundations and whatnot to try to relate our science our social science our education and our social action programs to try to reduce this kind of gap. And yet with increasing literacy I think in part the effectiveness of the mass media of communication. Nonetheless these gaps between what is possible are seems to be possible and what in fact transpires seems to be holding its own as a gap if not spreading and out of that discrepancy may well come. Many of the frictions and social tensions. I think that possibly is a fair statement of what we're trying to get out in this discussion. And one of the experiences I had recently was talking to workers in both
Detroit and in Pittsburgh and what impressed me was that in some way they were the least disaffected it is the blacks in the students who are more disaffected with aspects of our society than they were if they had any disaffection it was one of those blacks in one of those students complaining about this is a this is a pretty great country. And so that I found them to be in fact more conservative than most and then most of our more famous conservative politicians. The other thought I had was that it was the relatively successful experience that the blacks had in agitating it began to make some workers feel. Darn it if they can do it why shouldn't we. But then they withdraw from it because they have a degree of satisfaction. Then in order for them to rationalize their own increasing uncomfortableness I've heard workers say well it's OK if we if we can pay for 30 billion dollars a year to have a war
why can't they pay so many billion dollars a year to take care of the worker so they almost use what we're doing in foreign policy as a way of excusing themselves for having the aspirations that black students already have. Chris I think your support about who it is who's disaffected brings up one of the most interesting aspects of this problem but will probably want to consider it strikes me as pretty clear that when one asks who's disaffected and why. That one at once gets into the question of what is the relationship between some factual state of affairs and some symbolic interpretation of a state of affairs. This comes out especially in the in the case of some economic groups whose. Matter of fact position and hasn't over a period of time changed very much very dramatically but whose symbolic demands and collective action demands have changed
enormously. And so I suppose that when you could you give us one example in the stereo so I was thinking particularly here of many of the black groups whose economic position has has not through time changed very much but whose whose intensity of demand for something important happened to change their situation has gone a prodigious leap in recent times. I would agree on two counts. One maybe is a more general point and that is we don't yet have a very good way of assessing what these levels of demands or expectations are at any given time. Nor of their rates of change we have some pretty good guesses about some of these changes. But a key problem is I would see it if we're thinking about how better to regulate our means to the desired ends are preferred and people have what is it that people
want is to know what they want and we don't have that established terribly well. I think one very small step that's been taken in that direction was the formation earlier this year after several years of study by groups of social scientists of a social indicators staff within the White House. Now this is not a large research enterprise which probably is the way it might well have been done and done better. But to try to begin to bring together into an easily understood and somewhat calibrated fashion. Things like barometers of social tension or social demand so that we have that as a base from which to begin to think sensibly about possible programs that might cope with these needs or or social go instantly Joe I think Chris made an interesting point about this somewhere.
Namely that a lot of people are afraid of these large scale planet darkness operations that do depend on the mobilization of this type of material. Yes we found that workers especially have the fear that if you plan the future f ective leave then the people who are planning gain control of their future and they I think do look with concern about the people who are interested in planning the other side of it is interestingly enough. I speak now for myself. My way of looking at plans is asking the question how can redesign redesign the inner environment of organization so that we increase the quality of life at work. Now the greatest resistance I get are from the workers and not from management or and less so from the unions who sort of like the idea and it reminds them of the 30s but they don't know what to do with it because the changes that we would ask them to make would be the redesign of the technology of budgetary systems and control systems which get at the heart of both the way unions and management are organized it's not an either or.
Chris I think you put your finger there on one of the great difficulties so whenever you try to work out a policy procedure in which there is widespread participation you frequently discover that the rank and file of many of the of the middle groups aren't especially interested in participation. Now it is true that doing periods of recognized crisis there is an enormous demand that's popularly supported throughout the group for such things. We're seeing that obviously in a vigorous student movements of the time. Many of the vigorous worker and black students but it's equally clear that the moment you begin to try over a period of years to institutionalize participation in the policy process that there is the problem of keeping people mobilized for some form of effective participation. And that's something that I think saddest thing to talk about and they say this is a place to where I've got some hunches I'd like to
ventilate before we break up. One of the suggestions that's along the line that all of us are very much concerned about is this. I would like to see you from an early time in our educational experience. People get accustomed to participating in the process of praising the achievements of themselves and the groups in which they're operating. Thus to take the bet Now example instead of having teachers exclusively evaluating the student even sub college levels that the student has an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the student group and himself and the teacher and of a variety of other they're doing it every day I think. That's the fact of the matter is it. So why not institutionalize it in a way so that they this participation gets more responsible so that in the same way as one moves into
participating in later in a variety of civic associations and in governmental organizations. But it seems very natural that one would engage one's self in a planning and evaluating procedure. I would like to add if I may un-Christian his earlier point about the fear or distaste for planning the problem of what really constitutes planning very often engaging in the process rather than the result which is resisted because the ones being planned for sense that their conception of the problem is a very different one from that in the mind of the planner. Or put another way it isn't planning that's that's good or bad it's it's how do you do it. Or in a way it's a bit like Murray should value his reaction when someone asked him on his I think 78 birthday. How do you like growing old. And he said there was lots wrong with it. But when he thought of the
alternative it wasn't so bad. Well I think we got that in connection with with planning too I think the challenge here rests particularly upon people involved in intellectual life and in the social sciences particularly to do a much better job of searching out for the full range of possible outcomes of alternative courses of action and not just measuring their planning and terms of the nominal thing they started to plan for your plan for housing Well if you if you only think of housing and not on what this does to the way people live with each other's sense of community what is the whole city environment going to be like and so on. Obviously this is bad planning and yet we have many more examples of the bad than the good. I'd like to underline that too because it doesn't it says seem to me that the implication of this is that we need to get more accustomed to operating with images of
the whole process in which we are engaged if it's a corporation in a university. A trade union that we need to have working visual and images as well as verbal images of the past present and future of the process in which we are engaged and of course as Joe was just pointing out the failure to operate with some checklist that's a reminder of the context frequently produces the most fantastic consequences. One example in the planning field that I think all of us could mention is the failure of certain metropolitan plans which were designed by engineers to take into consideration the changes in the social structure that were consequences of the application of those projects. I have in mind a city whose planners literally did not anticipate or see the consequences of displacing the blacks and the
Mexicans from certain areas and of course from other point of view of those groups it was very obvious that the whole thing looked as though it were decided simply to get rid of them for the body politic. I remember in the early days of redevelopment here in New Haven they used to go to the directors of those groups and ask them now that they're tearing down neighborhoods have they given any thought to what's going to happen to these neighborhoods. And the response I got was Look Chris that is an important problem but we're having an awful time just unfreezing all the other forces that we have to unfreeze to buy up the land and so on. And so these people will be grateful once we build the new buildings which of course didn't didn't occur. So in a sense the platter becomes so involved with his own sense of success in his own sense of self esteem that I think at times he forgets the problem of the implementation of this and he gets involved I think to exclusively if he's accustomed to think in terms of tangibles such as streets
such as lights. Yes. Such as traffic speed when he thinks in those terms exclusively and doesn't ask himself what are the experiences that people are going to have. How is this change going to enter into their focus of attention. And in this way change their everyday view of the world their preferences and then of course their whole sense of identity. Unless people get accustomed to raising these questions all the time and not simply as a matter of of the exceptional discussion. It seems to me that we're going to over look continually the more subtle and important implications of trying to do things together. Well I would agree here on with with that and I'm sure we could dredge up a list of horrors where that has happened in this really relates in a way to our opening comment too with how to overly high expectations get built up. Often it's in the course
of someone who is finally in a position to do something which he thinks of as planning and then gets involved in a very complicated political struggle. And it may be bureaucratic politics not governmental politics at that time and he sees his own little program threatened. He exaggerates promises of what will be achieved leading people to build up to an awful letdown. I think the burden here is much more serious one that rests upon. Those people are professionally trained to understand and anticipate this kind of thing far more than it does even on the politicians who have their own reasons for setting up planning boards and so on I don't think there is any substitute for a better form of training. And here I would include more than training in technical skills but training in a sense of sensitivity to the broad range
of personal and social group values that are involved when you start mucking around with a very complex machine which say a city is a know how do we get this. I think maybe we could spend a minute. I would start it off that's alright with you and sort of ticking off some of the requirements that I would see to prevent this kind of gross narrow one value kind of planning. And that is by creating a better sense of what constitutes entered as in this interdisciplinary cooperation in the planning process or if you will a better applied social science. There are ways to do this so that people can check each other's tendencies towards a Mona mania with respect to their own particular special focus and only recently do we begin this see people coming up through universities and research centers who have a broad canvas or
another figure who even while digging pot holes managed to see some of the landscape at the same time instead of willy nilly cutting it to pieces. Harold you might want to add something on that because many of your Basic writings were you stressed the importance of evaluating the consequences of alternative courses of action in terms of a whole series of values that are important to people which include not only income and respect and what does it do to physical well-being and so on and provide an important set of yardsticks against which planning can be evaluated. Yes I think the advantage of a type of emphasis that you just underlined show is this. If we can think of ourselves as participating in a common problem solving Quest whenever we're working in connection with our university planning or in connection with any of our other joint activities we recognize
that every problem has implications for all of the values that are being shaped and shared in our social process. And I believe that this can be made explicit as part of the experience of people when they get more acquainted with a policy science orientation with a problem solving way of looking at these issues so that people get accustomed to mobilize this particular perspectives of The Economist of the specialist on the social classes and the perspectives of people the individuals who are sensitive to the moral evaluations that are continually made. Who sense like was the importance of the identifications was small or middle sized or big groups and so on through one can turn to colleagues who are specialists in these different areas but who are very frequently not
mobilized as part of the same problem solving process of this I think what you were talking about and I know Chris that this is one of the major EV types of the Cs of your own approach to the many organizations where you have had an observing and a participating role. There are two experiences that come to my mind one is in organizations like the State Department and in some cities that I've worked in that is the deep differences that people have in point of view. How wrapped up their sense of self-esteem is in their own point of view and how much an emotional as well as an intellectual but how much an emotional problem it is for them to relax and genuinely understand the other person's point of view. So if I'm a psychologist I may have real difficulty in working with an economist and I have to learn how to deal with that both at the conceptual level and at an emotional interpersonal level because I think what we found was that people weren't listening to one another. Now
in another situation we we tried something experimentally in our department about 65 percent of the faculty agreed to try to get to the point where they could openly evaluate each other's work. Well it took two and a half years for them and we didn't do this every night we meet let's say once every three months or so but we'd meet for 12 hours. And in order to the process of evaluation includes within it some of the most. Both the important and potentially threatening processes that a human being can go through. And we found as I say it took about two and a half years for people to eventually begin to talk with one another the way we presume we talk when we're talking about someone if we decide to promote him. We've even gone to the point now when we evaluate students since we feel that they yet have not developed the skills to genuinely participate we tape record all our discussions and we tell
them and for example we say to a particular student from a such and such footage or such and such. Our evaluation of you is on there. Now the interesting thing is happened it has decreased the amount of content the amount of contact that students have demanded of faculty because they no longer get a yes or no but they get a range of the richness of their views the feelings and so on the faculty have. Well that Chris that. That's a very good example of a point that we made earlier about the desirability of involving people who are affected in the in the process itself for me to toss out just one example not dealing with students and faculty but here dealing very much with a very proper middle class white Americans and 1048 not seems like a century ago. The President Truman's Commission on Civil Rights put out its report to secure these rights. I was consulted by a town hall group in Montclair New Jersey which then was a very middle class
and upper class bedroom for downtown New York and they wanted to have simply a lecture series in their town hall forum that year. And I suggested that they might try something else that this report on civil rights nationally had just come out. And of course it couldn't conceivably apply to the proper people of Montclair. And then the great oh no not us. And I said fine why don't you prove that. Why don't we take this report chapter by chapter and do a self audit and a self survey of what is the status in Montclair. We don't discriminate on jobs. Oh no we don't exclude black doctors from the local hospitals of course not we don't deny black policemen the right to work for the police force. No. So they decided that they were going to show that Montclair led the nation. And I worked only as a kind of informal social scientist adviser. None of these people had Social Survey skills at all. And it was amazing to see the ingenuity with
which they looked at their town upside down or of course as you would expect horrified by the results. And this in fact did lead to major change in a number of the public and private institutions. Now these people never but never would have changed their conception of themselves if they hadn't turned up the evidence themselves they would not have believed it if some team from some outside university had come in and said we've studied you like a bunch of anthropologists studying the natives and here is what you're like. I think that's a superb example of the sort of thing that we're talking about here the importance of involving people in continuing processes not only of planning but of so for appraisal and of course these individuals can then use as advisers. All of the experts who can give assistance in designing questionnaires or performing what other acts would be hoped for in mobilizing information. That's one aspect of this too that is particularly
interesting. And that is that sometimes in businesses it's possible to start off by asking questions about the objectives of the business enterprise and talk about its share of the market and go on through the usual ways of talking that one engages in when one undertakes to define in the objectives of the business for the next two years the next five years the next 10 years. Well one remarkable thing that often happens is that people presently will respond to the idea that they not only ought to look at the events outside. They also also look at the events inside themselves and sometimes participate in sessions that are designed to allow everyone to see how the other participants and situation view him. And I gather that this is precisely the kind of emphasis that Chris that you were talking about in the
process that included self-examination overall as well as examination of it aggregate the process in which one was operating. And it seems to me that the important point about social science is that the people whose expertise is primarily in the examination of the individual experience are also supplementing themselves and wanting to be supplemented by an awareness of the social processes in which they are engaged and which can be more comprehensively described in some respects by people who are specialists on the social structure of the economic process the political structures the legal routines of our society. You know one of the problems that does worry me however is that I'm finding an increasing number. Working class people who have decided to adapt to their working life by becoming apathetic and indifferent. That kind of marketing orientation that Eric from once
talked about they have psychologically withdrawn if you will from involvement in life. Now if that's true what worries me is how do we then bring them into the planning process. I once went to a particular firm and the head of the head shop steward came out to meet me in the gate and he said that he had heard I was interested in employee involvement in giving them a greater influence in the firm and so on and he said Look Doctor we have one message for you just get back where you came from. I said well what do you mean. I said Well look we've got a nice management they leave us alone we've got a union that doesn't bother us don't come in here and upset the apple cart with involvement so that we may reach a point where the very people we want to help and we want to ask them to become involved may be the very people who will resist us. That may well be the case in many circles but fortunately for you as a social scientist of unfortunate for society there are many more groups available to try to work with
than there are or researchers who want to work with them and the opportunities are boundless. I'm fascinated by the extent to which modern social scientists do want to work on such problems as how do we. So act in field situations that the power is in fact more widely shared. And what are the strategies by which we can change permanently the power process so that it can be more widely based and effectively operated. Looking to the future with Chriss our interests professor and chairman of the department of administrative sciences Joseph Goldson executive director of the conciliation International an area studies and hara Laswell Ford Foundation professor of law and the social sciences. The scripts for these programs are available without charge by writing to email reports 1773. Yale station New Haven Connecticut 0 6 5 2 0. This program originates at Yale's audiovisual center.
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