Weaving the Threads of Institutions and Planning in Action

Authored by: Mickey Lauria

The Routledge Handbook of Institutions and Planning in Action

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085732
eBook ISBN: 9781315111230
Adobe ISBN:


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In Chapter 1 in this volume, Willem Salet argues that a relational perspective of social interaction is the cornerstone of planning practice and research and that institutional thought and pragmatic philosophy emphasize this relational approach in a complementary fashion. For Salet, institutions (patterned sets of social norms) condition processes and initiatives of social action that are the situated practices and consequences of planning that pragmatic philosophers argue are all we can know and thus all we can evaluate. Pragmatic scholars focus on the resolving specific problems in their rich empirical contexts while institutional researchers strive to recognize the constraints and structuring processes of the specific patterned sets of social norms within a particular context and provide critical feedback for that planning practice. While Salet sees the two approaches as complementary and necessary, he recognizes that the assumptions/premises of each tend to delegitimize the other, thus an integration is problematic because of their deep ontological and epistemological rift. In addition, institutional frameworks are diverse and emphasize different theories of causality (sociological/cultural through historical path dependency to political economy) that would likely require different co-evolutionary paths. Given this simultaneous potential synergy and incongruence, the aim of the volume is to explicitly define productive avenues for conceptualizing “the dialectic between institutional and pragmatic approaches.” Regardless, Salet has brought together an impressive array of scholars from around the world that have been developing the literature concerning both institutional and pragmatic approaches to planning in order to initiate a process of probing the potential of such integrated approaches.

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