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university of tampere: faculty of management: plannord 2017:
Faculty of ManagementUniversity of TampereFaculty of Management
Plannord 2017


Patsy Healey (Newcastle University)
Governance practices in transition: a civil society perspective

This paper will explore the planning idea and the practices associated with it from the perspective of civil society, drawing on an understanding of the planning project as a particular form of ‘place governance’. By place governance I mean collective action to manage, sustain, develop and/or transform places and their qualities. In many western European countries since the mid-twentieth century, such collective action has been dominated by formal state initiatives, as in the creation and practices of planning systems. However, in recent decades such formal government programmes have been under intense pressure, for fiscal (crisis of public resources), ideological (preference for ‘market’ solutions), and experiential (disconnect between citizen and state) reasons. For citizens, the result has been the unravelling of long taken-for-granted ways in which public goods and services have been provided, creating perceived and feared gaps in provision and difficulties in knowing what agency is now providing what service and how such providers should be held accountable. In this context, civil society initiatives have been emerging, both to fill gaps, and to mobilise attention to deficiencies and develop alternative governance forms (Wagenaar and Healey 2015).

Using the example of a particular locale in which I am actively involved as a resident, and drawing on a relational ‘sociological institutionalist’ approach to understanding governance transformation processes, I will examine how civil society mobilisation has generated collective action initiatives focused on sustaining and enhancing place qualities and how this has interacted with formal government systems and practices, themselves in transformation. I will consider what such experiences contribute to understanding the momentum of ‘caring for place’ as a mobilising force for community action with transformative power (Healey 2017), and what the implications are for formal planning systems and for the role of professional experts (planners) in place governance?

Louis Albrechts (University of Leuven)
From stage-managed planning towards a more imaginative and inclusive strategic spatial planning

Planning systems have changed little from the traditional models of the 1970s, they focus mainly on maintaining the existing social-spatial order rather than challenging and transforming it. This is done through a focus on carefully stage-managed processes with subtly but clearly defined parameters of what is open for debate suspending alternative ways of interpretation. These systems fail to capture the dynamics and tensions of relations coexisting in particular places. As proper planning and politics must also revolve around the construction of great new fictions that create real possibilities for constructing different futures  a search is needed for a systematic method that combines a critical interpretation of existing reality, reflects creatively about possible futures and how to get there. To play a pivotal role in a more imaginative, and inclusive strategic spatial planning three core concepts are introduced: ability/creativity to broaden the scope of the possible in a way able to cope with the challenges ahead and to embed structural change, inclusivity/social justice and legitimacy. Due to an ever increasing diversity in our cities a main challenge is to design and facilitate planning processes that can accommodate cultural differences. This requires planners to extend their thinking into other epistemological worlds -like walking in another’s shoes-. Planning for multiple publics argues for a celebration of difference while addressing the problems of inequality and social justice. In the tradition of empowerment planning co-production- as a mobilizing practice of collective political organization- is introduced. Statutory plans get their legitimacy by handing the decisions on the approval of plans over to the elected political representatives of the local government -legitimacy through vote-. The emancipatory narrative of co-production could fulfill a legitimating function in strategic spatial planning combined with a compulsory structural component in its content and the obvious framing of statutory plans.

Willem Salet (University of Amsterdam)
Institutions in Action

Willem Salet explores the relational perspective of social interaction as the cornerstone of planning research. Considered from this relational point of view, the legitimation and effectuation of planning are investigated as processes of social interaction rather than being proclaimed from an auto-centric planning position. The world does not turn around a planners’ lever, planners have to – proactively – intermediate social processes of interaction. Two conceptual orientations are very well equipped to achieve this itinerary: the philosophy of pragmatism and institutional thought. The premises and research strategies of these two orientations are very different, however, they might fulfil complementary roles. Institutional theories focus on the patterning of sets of public norms that condition social interaction. Pragmatism is interested in purposive relationships: its focus is on aspirations and problem solving. The meaning of pragmatic thought and knowledge is proved and tested in the consequences of action. The normative and purposive relationships contain different premises and different research strategies to legitimate and effectuate public action. The differences are so fundamental that convergence has proved difficult, both in practice and in academic research. In the post-war epoch, the pragmatist orientation has become prevailing in both domains of the planning discipline. Strategies into a co-evolution of both orientations would require a turn to institutions first.

The challenge of a co-evolution of institutional and pragmatic approaches of planning is subject of a monograph (by Willem Salet), and the attached paper is the position paper of a handbook devoted to the same subject. Both publications are forthcoming later this year.

Helena Leino (University of Tampere)
Mission impossible? Co-creation in urban planning

Cities face multiple and complex problems when trying to keep up with urbanisation. Public policies lag behind the pace of urban development, which means that services such as housing, transportation, public spaces and urban planning, are not delivered to the urban dwellers in a sufficient manner. Urbanisation poses also another challenge to planning practices, as emergent novel forms of agency and bottom-up experiments are reshaping the planning field. Currently, dwellers, housing associations and NGO’s have to deal with inflexible and outdated practices within cities when trying something new. Thus, an exploration of the potential and the limits of novel co-creative participatory practices forms the focus of this talk. At a time when experimental living labs and civic hackathons are calling into question the key elements of the established planning procedures, such reflection is particularly relevant. The talk will highlight how different kinds of interaction models, knowledge brokering and intermediary practices are shifting agency to new forums. However, the question remains as to what it is that the multiple actors are actually co-producing: brokered knowledge, novel collaborative partnerships or political legitimacy for business-as-usual in planning processes?

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