Social scientists in Yugoslavia played an important role in criticizing modernist urban planning, following a similar pattern as in the United States and Western Europe. Sociologists like Herbert Gans, in the United States, and Peter Willmott and Michael Young, in Great Britain, had drawn attention to the positive qualities of neighborhoods that had been labeled slums and slated for demolition. 1 Willmott and Young had shed a critical light on the consequences for community life of moving the members of an East End London neighborhood into high-rise housing. Their research was in fact highly influential on Team 10, the group of young modernists within CIAM who revolted against it and effectively ended the organization.
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In most cases, this critique coincided with a generalized social crisis: the growing racial and social tensions in 1960s America, the Algerian independence war in the French case, and the discontent that climaxed in the 1968 student protests in the FRG. Objectively, there were aspects of modernist town planning that merited criticism, ranging from the reinforcement of social in-equality through certain projects and poorly thought-out designs that created problems for dwellers. But the attack on modernist settlements was also a symptom of a much more defuse malaise, a perception that society was com-ing undone, losing its points of reference and its social norms, due to modern-ization processes. 4
In Yugoslavia, social scientists only began to openly criticize modernist settlements in the second half of the 1960s. As with the FRG, which experienced its own backlash at about the same time, this lag reflected a later starting point. After a false start in the late 1940s, construction in New Belgrade had only really started in the early 1960s. Nonetheless, the acquiescence of Yugoslav sociologists is likely due to other, more distinctive features. Urban sociology emerged relatively late as a field in Yugoslavia in comparison to other coun-tries, including the United States, where Chicago had adopted a leading role in the field in the 1920s and 1930s, and France, where Chombart de Lauwe had established a center (the Groupe d’ethnologie sociale, later the Centre d’ethnol-ogie sociale) in Paris in 1949. In Yugoslavia, urban sociology arguably made its first appearance in 1961 in the leading Yugoslav sociology review, Sociologija. In an introduction to the topic, Cvetko Kostic focused on work by Durkheim and Halbwachs; the work of Chicago School founders Park, Burgess, and McKenzie; Middletown and various other case studies of small American cit-ies; and Chombart de Lauwe’s writings on the methodology of urban sociol-ogy. 5 It would take a few years for Yugoslav sociologists to determine the im-plications of self-management for urban sociology and to adopt the questions and methods of urban sociology in their own research. In the meanwhile, the opening up of Yugoslavia’s borders in the 1960s allowed sociologists unfettered access to scholarship from abroad.
Initially, social scientists such as economists and sociologists understood their role as that of supporting socialist planners, including urban planners, in the task of designing the ideal settlement. The urban planning profession en-couraged this conception through its own self-definition as a multidisciplinary profession. Architects with a specific interest in town planning had been work-ing to build an independent professional identity distinct from decorating and had succeeded in doing so by the mid-1950s. The Society of Urban Plan-ners of Serbia was founded in 1955, with Nikola Dobrovic as its first president, and the federation-wide Council of Town Planning Associations of Yugosla-via (Savez drustava urbanista Jugoslavije) was founded the same year. Their drive for independence was premised on the argument that urban planning was a distinct interdisciplinary field, rather than a subgenre of decorating. Good urban planning included contributions by economists, natural scientists such as geologists and meteorologists, engineers, and sociologists, as well as architects. 6 The goal of being truly interdisciplinary was, however, elusive, as Vladimir Bjelikov pointed out as late as 1962. 7 This, indeed, had been the main argument for maintaining the independence of the Society of Urban Planners of Serbia from the Society of Architects of Serbia. By arguing for multidiscipli-narity, urban planners not only secured their independence as a profession but also strengthened their claim that urban planning was a total science. They an-ticipated that specialists representing the different disciplines would contrib-ute their expertise in creating settlements that were ideal from every possible perspective. Belgrade’s Town Planning Institute employed specialists in a vari-ety of scientific and artistic fields.
While social scientists working in planning offices were faced with very concrete tasks, their colleagues in research institutes and universities also saw their role as inquiring into better ways to design settlements. They primarily concerned themselves with finding ways of facilitating integration in a context of major social upheaval. What made matters especially difficult is that they had to pay attention to two separate processes simultaneously the integration of peasants into the city and the transformation of all Yugoslavs, including migrants, into citizens of a modern, socialist state. Thus, sociologists preoccupied themselves with such topics as the best organization of space in an apartment and ways to facilitate good neighborly relations and the mixing of people of different backgrounds.
Social scientists looked for solutions to meet this double challenge both in self-management theory and in the writings of American urban sociologists, such as Charles H. Cooley, Florian Znaniecki, and W. I. Thomas, and American geographers, such as Harris D. Chauncy, Edward L. Ullman, and Homer Hoyt. They found an audience in architectural journals like Arhitektura Urbanizam. 8 In the mid-1960s, sociologists openly recognized the enormity of the chal-lenge, but they were also optimistic that it could be overcome. Theories about neighborly relations, for example, offered tools for improving the integration of migrants and promoting social cohesion among different social groups. For example, in his inquiry into factors of integration in Yugoslavia, sociologist Vinko Jerzabek warned that, although the local community (mesna zajednica) was supposed to foster a sense of community, it was too large to play an inte-grative role, as it typically contained several thousand people. He argued that neighborliness, a well-known traditional form of sociability in rural Yugoslavia, could help mediate between the family and the local community. 9