Today’s society does not respond to models, society IS not (as being); society manifests.
It isn’t about finding a definition (or definitions) for society. Sociology and advanced anthropology have resigned to such affair, dealing in these times only with the “micro” scale. Research Sociology, Innovations sociology, Sociology of relationships between machines and humans (Parliament of humans and non-humans in Bruno Latour terminology).
If defining society in a somewhat coherent and intelligible mode isn’t possible, is to say a social model is a vain effort to induce a professional behavior model or adapt accordingly the exercise of urbanism and architecture.
The society pacts architects are broken. The bourgeois architect isn’t any longer working for the bourgeoisie. Romantic relationship models remain, inoperative between architects that are ghosts and society that is a ghost.
Happy 19th century western arcadian of the bourgeois society, disciplinary architecture and urban planner producer. Bourgeoisie, main character of national and supranational politics until proletarians and fascist revolutionary movements of the 20th century, modeled an architect prototype inherited from romantic culture (the creator in the heart of the problem) and supported by the positivist paradigm with which mantained an idyllic pairing though elitist in social macrostructure terms.
This model, wrapped in privileges in some countries such as ours, has survived, and endures, counter-current nowadays. This model and its prerogatives defense turns into a numantine resistance outwards, but also inside the profession itself. The territory for the discipline’s exercise is dramatically armor-plated by a speech which isn’t supported culturally or socially or productively, being renouncing to the investigation of new forms of professional practice the price paid. Those, for example, deriving outside (above or below) what architecture is and which is much more serious, with the resignation to progress in training pedagogies for varied modes of intervention in the human environment, or resignation to the admission of inevitable production methodologies (desirable I would say) of disciplinary interaction that, let’s say it already, threaten the very concept of intellectual property.
The architect was long ago displaced from the decisions core and, in the best case, acts as an advisor for politicians and social-economy agents. The own political decisions are socially challenged, and usually occur behind society’s evolution and never ahead of it, not even in time.
The collusion image between political decisions and the urban and architectural project is pathetic. In a rigaudon, accompanied by the development of digital display systems in which politicians dance, bent on inaugurating streets, buildings, increasingly and in a puerile way, show banal realities using means of dreamlike depiction, inaugurate models, 3D renderings or simply posters of construction purposes on a site. Right there, beside, charged, accomplices or hostages, there are always architects and urban planners.
The architect’s work has been displaced (in relevant terms) to the periphery of the conventional, because society has overflowed the framework of the historically conventional.
The bourgeois architect rambles lost searching for a powerful bourgeoisie that has also been lost. The bourgeois architect attempted to reinvent himself, on the side of the class struggle, in a schizophrenic (that’s why it failed) internal contradiction. In his flight forward, he has held the illusionist role at the political power tribune, which now belongs to classless politicians, and hardly finds utility, a real social utility for his work.
Is it that the great Chamberlain’s work for a few Fireworks is socially useless? Don’t the few seats available on the political scene for good and vassal chamberlains make this scenario, in social or historical terms a pathetic present?
But humanity transforms and non-stop transforms its environment with more or less immediate urban and architectural chores, in whomever hands that is.
Architecture and urban planning aren’t any longer the buildings we build and cities we plan, but the habitat that societies produce, and the physical environment that they permanently negotiate with the natural, economic and cultural environment, etc.
This inexorable reality is expectant and open for the competent professionals to promiscuously join its uncertain and unpredictable project of the peripheral and if us, architects, don’t do it, at the disciplinary, stylistic and even the own author-project – work role expense, others will do so.
They are already doing it.