Document Type


Publication Date



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Social Work


The principal thesis of this paper is that the inadequacies of recent efforts at social planning are essential failures of theory, rather than failures of practice. Economic, land use and social welfare planners it is suggested have all shared a common unwillingness or inability to abandon commitments to an essentially utilitarian rhetoric of reasoned behavior, wherein means are matched with ends, persons are viewed as essentially self-interested and goal-directed rational problem solvers operating on schedules of goal attainment known or predictable by the planners. Symbolic interaction theory has resources to revitalize planning theory. Selected publications by John Dewey, G.H. Mead, W.I. Thomas, E.W. Burgess and Harry Stack Sullivan are reviewed and discussed.

Source Citation

This unpublished conference paper was presented at the Second Annual Symposium of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, Columbia, South Carolina, March 19, 1978.


This paper was written during the early phase of the 'interactionist revival' of the 1970's and later, when the literature on the subject was very limited and difficult to retrieve.



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