Some uses and potentials of qualitative methods in planning

Planners use methods borrowed from many disciplines. These are usually modified and adapted to meet planner’s needs to acquire and sift through many diverse information sources helpful in dealing with complex problems. The quantitative methods which planners use are well known, well established in practice, and acknowledged by most as tools of the planners’ trade. In contrast to this, most planners also use qualitative methods but these are rarely explicitly acknowledged. In this paper some of the qualitative methods used in planning are identified and categorized into three groups according to the special contribution that they make to the practice of planning. A few of these methods are elaborated to highlight their unique potential to address particular aspects of planning problems. Given this potential, the current debate about how best to teach quantitative methods in schools of planning should be expanded to include discussion of the teaching of qualitative methods.