Planning and Foucault: In Search of the Dark Side of Planning Theory
Philip Allmendinger and Mark Tewdwr-Jones, eds., Planning Futures: New Directions for Planning Theory, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 44-62
28 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013 Last revised: 25 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2002
In this paper we argue that the use of the communicative theory of Jürgen Habermas in planning theory is problematic because it hampers an understanding of how power shapes planning. We posit an alternative approach based on the power analytics of Michel Foucault, which focuses on ‘what is actually done’, as opposed to Habermas’s focus on ‘what should be done’. We discuss how the Foucauldian stance is problematic to planning; asking difficult questions about the treatment of legitimacy, rationality, knowledge, and spatiality. We conclude that Foucault offers a type of analytic planning theory that offers better prospects than does Habermas for those interested in understanding and bringing about democratic social change through planning.
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