A central theme in contemporary theorizing around planning is fragmentation. Not only are the places in which people live and work characterized by diversity (what Sandercock has termed ‘mongrel cities’ (2003)), but also the ways in which planners and others understand and think about places and spaces has begun to reflect an underlying uneasiness with the ways in which planning and planners seek to unify such diversity into a ‘plan’. In short, as the world has seemingly become more diverse and fractured along social, cultural and political lines so planning and planning theory has had to account for and reflect such multiplicity. Rather than providing a way forward, much current theory seeks to break down and critically engage with planning practices. Indeed, the nature of much contemporary theorizing eschews single, ubiquitous methods and understandings. One outcome is to reinforce Thompson’s view that current planning theory is ‘impenetrable’ and ‘unnecessarily obscure’ (2000, p. 132). The gap between theory and practice is growing and the issues that both are grappling with are becoming more complex. This is at a time when there is an increased necessity to better understand the contribution of each to the other. A common issue for both theory and practice concerns the notion that society and the form of planning it supports has moved beyond what has been termed modernity. Planning theory and practice is, broadly, searching for a new or ‘postmodern’ paradigm.
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