The language and practice of change is encoded in the narrative of modernization. As noted by Marshal Berman, the experience of modernity is essentially an experience of an ever changing world. In the interwar and postwar years, many people shared the planners’ enthusiasm in modern architecture, modernist urban planning, city centre redevelopment, new housing areas and faster traffic networks. The experience of modernity, as well known, had also another face: the fear of rapid transformation and longing for stability. In other words, the process of modernization resulted in a complex co-existence of celebrating modernity on the one hand, and nostalgia towards the past on the other hand. The necessity of both change and stability were often justified in reference to the notions of community and communal belonging.
The growing body of technocratic experts, town planners, architects, social scientists, utilizing tools such as community interviews, statistics, guidebooks, and visualization of sociological knowledge, were the fuel and the essence of modernization. Information was exchanged in professional, transnational networks. Already by the early-twentieth century expert knowledge had become an unwavering authority in the legitimization of political decision making.
This project sets out to explore the mediating role that experts had in the processes of modernization and community building in Finland from the early-twentieth century to the 1950s. In addition to analysing the mechanisms, in which expert knowledge was used to control the experience of modernity and build communal belonging, the project also analyses the contestation of this change-transmitting professional knowledge by laymen, but also by other professionals. The project examines both urban and rural communities, as well as various groups of experts: town planners, architects and historians. Common to all these professional groups was their key role in explaining and justifying change, in the environment and in the community.
Source of the pictures on these pages: Rakennustaito.