'A populism for the city: John Dewey, Henry George and the city planning movement'

 John D. Fairfield (Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio)

John Dewey's democratic philosophy is best understood in the context of the early 20th century American city. A variety of urban reform movements and initiatives represented the possibilities that inspired Dewey's democratic faith. Re-examining his democratic philosophy in light of the American city reconnects Dewey with the urban populism that helped shape his ideals and promised to translate them into concrete action. But this re-examination also reveals Dewey's failure to realise his ideals in practical engagement with the city. City planning and urban design provided an essential but neglected context for the realisation of Dewey's democratic ideals. For those still concerned about the future of the city, this re-examination also brings Dewey's democratic philosophy to bear on the practice of city planning and urban design in a way that broadens their relationship to the public. Instead of thinking of urban design and city planning in terms of results, the creation, at best, of a few public spaces that might facilitate political discussion, we should value planning and design as process. As democratic process, planning and design educate and empower the public and make the city as a whole the subject of co-operative inquiry and collective action.