Construction policy research: beware reason masquerading as truth

One of the defining characteristics of the modern era has been the ascendency and privileging of an instrumental version of reason at the expense of other, competing forms of rationality. Now deeply established and an integral component of Neoliberal discourse, it forms the dominant form of reasoning for many planners, policy-makers, academics and laypersons alike. Drawing on the works of Max Horkheimer and Max Weber, this paper considers the ways in which instrumental reason diminishes policy formulations and undermines democratic culture. It achieves this through a consideration of the exclusion of ‘deep’ green activists from policy formulation and an examination of the Capital approach to sustainability popularised by David Pearce. Recognising instrumental reason as a culturally specific value-laden ideal, this paper teases out the assumptions behind such thought and highlights the potential for alternatives. Such a realisation has important consequences, as the ability for built environment policy-makers to reimagine theory and practice becomes possible only when the veil of instrumental reason, cloaked and presented as a value-neutral ideal, is lifted. It is hoped that such a perspective will contribute to the growing theoretical and philosophical debate in Construction Management research.