FRAMING THE STUDY – NARRATIVE, NARRATOLOGY AND THE ELEMENTS OF A VARIFOCAL LENS

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The study topic

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live”, says Didion (2006: 185). We live, she (ibid) argues, “by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images,by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learnt to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria that is our actual experience”. MacIntyre (1984) similarly views stories as essential for how we understand ourselves and the world we live in. It is only through stories, and specifically myths, that we can learn to understand any society.

Previous research on the topic

Narratives have received much attention in planning research. This new (as opposed to the technical) way of looking at planning, has alternatively been called the “story turn” (Sandercock, 2003), the “argumentative turn” (Fischer and Forester, 1993) and the “communicative turn” (Healy, 1993 and Innes, 1995) in planning. The planner is increasingly seen participating in the purposive authoring of stories about the future (Van Hulst, 2012; Throgmorton, 2003 and Healey, 2000) and as creating space for competing and possibly conflicting stories (Throgmorton, 2003; Mandelbaum, 1991).

UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY

The study makes a dual contribution. The primary contribution is that it adds to the stock of narrative planning studies in an area where there is a paucity of such studies, namely small to medium towns in South Africa (CDE, 2005). It fills a knowledge gap by focusing on a town about which little research has been conducted in the past.

STUDY SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The study lies at the intersection of narratology and planning. As indicated in paragraph 1.1 above, the application of the narrative form to four aspects of planning will be considered. These are stories of places and planning processes, plans as stories, stories as mechanisms for spatial world-making and spaces (cities and towns) as narratives. As also indicated in paragraph 1.1 there may be other aspects of planning to which narratology can be applied that will not be covered in this study.

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.1 Introduction
1.1.1 The study topic
1.1.2 Previous research on the topic
1.1.3 How the study frame was constructed and the crafting of a varifocal lens
1.2 Unique contribution of the study
1.3 Research questions
1.4 Study scope and limitations of the study
1.5 Structure of the thesis
CHAPTER 2: FRAMING THE STUDY – NARRATIVE, NARRATOLOGY AND THE ELEMENTS OF A VARIFOCAL LENS
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Story/narrative
2.2.1 The narrative in life and academe
2.2.2 Narrative in planning theory and practice
2.2.3 The story of the mining town as an iconic narrative of South African life
2.3 Utopia
2.3.1 The notion of utopia
2.3.2 Literary utopias
2.3.3 Utopianism and planning
2.4 Dystopia
2.5 Hope
2.5.1 A philosophical perspective: Ernst Bloch on hope
2.5.2 Spatial planning and hope
2.6 Marshall Berman’s modernity and beyond
2.6.1 Development as tragedy with reference to Goethe’s Faust
2.6.2 Karl Marx – critical insights and radical hopes
2.6.3 A Parisian perspective on early modernism with reference to Baudelaire
2.6.4 St. Petersburg – repressed modernism
2.6.5 Modernism in New York
2.6.5.1 Robert Moses
2.6.5.2 Jane Jacobs
2.6.5.3 Modernism and the past
2.7 Apartheid and modernity in South Africa
2.7.1 Introduction
2.7.2 Ideological and economic drivers of Apartheid
2.7.3 Apartheid and modernism
2.7.4 Spatial implications of Apartheid
2.7.4.1 The Apartheid city
2.7.4.2 Planning before, during, and after Apartheid
2.8 Summary of the chapter
CHAPTER 3: MINING TOWNS IN TRANSITION – A REVIEW OF EXISTING LITERATURE
3.1 Introduction
3.2 When what a (mining) town is about changes
3.3 Effects of mine closure
3.3.1 Drop in property values
3.3.2 Unemployment
3.3.3 Social conflicts
3.3.4 Pressure on the municipality
3.3.5 Environmental impacts
3.3.6 Failure to maintain existing infrastructure
3.4 Mitigating the effects of mine closure
3.4.1 Economic diversification and revitalisation
3.4.2 Amalgamation
3.4.3 Demolition
3.5 The role of community participation in responding to mine closures
3.6 The role of a development agency
3.7 Selected narratives of other single-industry towns
3.7.1 Johannesburg
3.7.2 Benoni
3.7.3 Sasolburg
3.7.4 Secunda
3.8 Summary of the chapter
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research design
4.2.1 A specific kind of case study research
4.2.2 A qualitative study following a mixed-methods approach
4.3 Data collection
4.3.1 Framing of the study and literature review
4.3.2 Secondary data collection
4.3.3 Primary data collection: sampling and data collection instrument
4.3.3.1 Sampling
4.3.3.2 Primary data collection instrument: semi-structured interviews
4.4 Ethical considerations
4.5 Data analysis
4.5.1 Narrative and discourse analysis
4.6 Reliability and validity
4.6.1 Limitations of a qualitative approach
4.6.2 Bias
4.7 Application of the study findings – research and practice
CHAPTER 5: THE VIRGINIA STORY – PRESENTATION OF THE FINDINGS
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Background about the town of Virginia
5.2.1 Location, municipal governance, and size
5.2.2 History
5.3 Respondents
5.4 Site visits
5.5 Stories about Virginia past and present
5.5.1 Stories about Virginia during the boom
5.5.1.1 The garden city of South Africa
5.5.1.2 Booming business
5.5.1.3 Housing
5.5.1.4 Amenities, benefits, and lifestyle
5.5.1.5 The mine as the “big daddy”
5.5.1.6 Apartheid and racial discrimination
5.5.1.7 Class, social pressure, and the yoke of respectability
5.5.2 Stories of Virginia after the boom
5.5.2.1 The garden city no more
5.5.2.2 A struggling business sector
5.5.2.3 Unemployment and poverty
5.5.2.4 Flight and stuckness
5.5.2.5 Crime and social decay
5.5.2.6 A good life for some
5.5.3 Stories of blame
5.5.3.1 The mine – they owe us
5.5.3.2 Government – there was no Plan B
5.5.3.3 The people of Virginia – they should take responsibility
5.6 Municipal and provincial plans as “stories about the future”
5.6.1 The Free State Growth and Development Strategy Free State Vision 2030 – the future we want
5.6.2 The Free State Province Provincial Spatial Development Framework (FSPSDF)
5.6.3 The Lejweleputswa District Municipality Final Reviewed IDP for 2017-2022
5.6.4 The 2017-2022 Matjhabeng Local Municipality IDP
5.7 Stories about the future of Virginia
5.7.1 Hope and hopelessness
5.7.2 Plans for the future: Small adjustments and grand strategies
5.7.3 Hope for a new mining boom
5.7.4 People, networks, leadership
5.7.5 God will heal our town
5.8 A last word on the respondents
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The first study objective: Adding to the body of knowledge of planning stories
6.2.1 The reading of the Virginia stories
6.2.2 The contribution of the study through the first study objective
6.2.2.1 Narratives as a way of telling and understanding practice stories (stories of places or planning processes)
6.2.2.2 The narrative or elements thereof as a structure to make
plans accessible and understandable/readable
6.2.2.3 The use of narratives to enable “world-making” through planning
6.2.2.4 The reading of spaces (cities and towns) as narratives
6.3 The second study objective: Considering the development of a narratology of planning
6.3.1 Employment of the science of narrative in planning studies
6.3.1.1 Narratives as a way of telling and understanding practice stories (stories of places or planning processes)
6.3.1.2 The narrative or elements thereof as a structure to make plans accessible and understandable/readable
6.3.1.3 The use of narratives to enable “world-making” through planning
6.3.1.4 The reading of spaces (cities and towns) as narratives
6.3.2 The reciprocal benefit of the application of the science of
narrative to planning
6.4 Concluding remarks
LIST OF REFERENCES

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Towards a narratology of planning – stories of a South African gold mining town

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