Problematizing Planning: Critical and Effective Genealogies

Authored by: Margo Huxley

The Ashgate Research Companion to Planning Theory

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754672548
eBook ISBN: 9781315279251
Adobe ISBN: 9781315279244

10.4324/9781315279251.ch4

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Abstract

It may seem odd to bring history into debates about the relations between theory and practice in spatial planning, but if so, then this is an odd chapter. In it, I want to revisit suggestions (e.g. Boyer 1983; Fischler 1998b, 2000) that planning history as it has been conventionally told, contributes to an unquestioning acceptance of something called ‘planning’ that has identifiable points of origin and a more-or-less continuous identity over time. According to these narratives, if planning has not always been as ‘good’ or socially just as it might, could or should be – if it has a ‘dark side’ that needs to be acknowledged – these are unfortunate occurrences that can, and indeed must, be rectified. But such histories, of taken-for-granted yet disparate set of practices, tend to gloss over the contingent discursive and practical struggles through which ‘planning’ has come into being as a form of spatial government, an academic discipline and as a self-fashioning of both practitioners and ‘participants’ (that is, anyone who has to deal with or is affected by land use/spatial planning). Planning history (in the singular) as a seamless narrative, obscures opportunities for creative disruptions of the present, and plays a part in uncritical repetition, both of theoretical assumptions and of regulatory practices.

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