Exploring Usage of the Word "Values": Implications and Opportunities for Planning
Explicitly and implicitly, planners make choices about values and use values to make choices. Values are presented as reasons to do and not to do in setting goals and during participatory planning processes, cited in scholarly articles used as planning knowledge, and purposefully collected by surveys. Attention to values is generally focused on substantive and procedural dimensions, such as determining what peoples' values are or deciding which values are relevant, in what circumstances, and at what point in planning processes. As well, planners may have a particular interest in understanding why people take particular positions on values, especially when values appear to conflict with values embedded in particular planning purposes and proposals. <br /><br /> Most of such usage of "values" takes the meaning of values for granted. It begins with an assumption of shared understanding about what "values" are. This thesis takes a step backwards to explore whether or not this assumption is warranted by identifying what appear to be different and disconnected usages of the word "values". <br /><br /> The first part of the thesis considers the history of usage of the word "values" and objections to using values language before proposing a theory about diverse usage of values. This theory was developed using grounded theory methodology, an iterative method of constant comparison and contrast applied to thousands of examples of values usage. Examples were gathered from contemporary everyday usage and from a broad range of scholarly material dating back to the late 1800s. These examples included but were not limited to examples from planning. Conclusions reached in the study of values are then used as a basis for developing three propositions that are applied to planning: (1) <strong>Calling something "a value", instead of a belief, principle, attitude and so on, can make a difference;</strong> (2) <strong>Particular usages of "values", no matter how diverse, are expressions of a concept of values in general;</strong> and (3) <strong>A questioning attitude should be attached to all values usage by default. </strong> For values to be a useful planning tool, the propositions should have explanatory value and create new opportunities for analysis and understanding of values usage in planning. <br /><br /> That there are multiple ways of using "values" suggests that planners have a choice in deciding how to use values. The third proposition is used as a starting point for proposing a usage of values that may be particularly suited to sustainability planning. The proposed usage takes into consideration the implications of a theory about diverse usage and a flexible and vague concept of values in general, the diverse history of usage of the word "values", objections to the use of values language, diverse usage of "values" in planning in general and the needs of planning. <br /><br /> Sustainability planning appears to have a particularly desperate need for integrating values across sectors into which society and ideas about society are organized. The usage of values proposed for sustainability planning is applied to a case study of a municipal sustainability initiative to consider its explanatory value and how a different understanding of values might have affected the planning process and subsequent implementation of the sustainability policy. If this theory about values holds in application to planning, then values may be a powerful tool with which to challenge convention and the status quo. <br /><br /> Conclusions are drawn about the desirability and feasibility of explicit and deliberate use of the word and idea of "values" in planning and suggestions are made for further research.