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About this book

In the 3rd edition of the leading introductory textbook to planning theory, Allmendinger provides a wide-ranging and up-to-date analysis of planning theories, how these relate to planning practice, and their significance. Moving away from a linear, chronological model of progress over time from one paradigm to another, Allmendinger explains how and why different theories have gained dominance in particular places at particular times, giving the reader a holistic view of the field of scholarship and to demonstrate the relevance of planning theory for practise.

Planning theory has undergone significant changes in recent decades as new theories and perspectives have emerged. Allmendigner takes care to detail the historical evolution of planning theory and the key philosophical issues involved so as enable the reader to both understand and critique theories as they encounter them.

This much revised edition of Philip Allmendinger's text draws upon both established theories and expands its scope of current thinking around neoliberalism, post-colonialism and post-structuralist thinking on politics, space and scale.

This unique approach to planning theory means this is an essential for all students completing planning theory courses in Urban or Planning studies, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Table of Contents

1. What is Theory?

Abstract
When writing a book that seeks to tackle a large topic such as planning theory there are important choices to be made about what to include, in what order, and what narrative (if any) should connect the various elements. In recent years planning theory has been characterized by fragmentation and diversification with a wide range of different understandings emerging and increasingly talking past each other. At one end of the spectrum are approaches that seek to understand and explain the purpose and impacts of planning as a function of the capitalist mode of production (currently under the overused label of ‘neoliberalism’) while at the other end of spectrum are post-structuralist approaches that reject a single, totalizing way of knowing. There is nothing inherently wrong with this seemingly incommensurable and growing diversity (though see Allmendinger, 2016 for an attempt at fusion of these two positions) but there are there are some consequences, particularly when attempting to decide where to draw the boundaries on what to include in a book on planning theory. The first consequence of this fragmentation amounts to a challenge to the notion of planning theory itself. This goes beyond bemoaning the continued existence of a theory–practice gap to argue that planning as a social practice does not ‘need’ theory – it functions perfectly well without it (for recent examples see Talvitie, 2009; Lord, 2014). The point is that if the field of planning theory is so varied, incommensurable and unrelated to the practice of planning (which seems to carry on regardless) then why bother trying to theorize it? Rather than theory the practice of planning should be underpinned by experiential learning and reflection (which sounds suspiciously like a theory of sorts itself).
Philip Allmendinger

2. The Current Landscape of Planning Theory

Abstract
In Chapter 1 I attempted to ‘problematize’ the idea of theory and question some basic assumptions with a perspective that emphasized a much more discursive and socially constructed basis to the notion of theory. What I intend to do in this chapter is turn my attention to how the perspectives of Chapter 1 help us better understand different kinds of theories and how they relate to each other through a typology. As I touched upon in Chapter 1, there is an assumption that planning as a profession needs some form of theory or thinking to underpin its claim to have specialist knowledge (one of the prerequisites of being a profession). Every field of endeavour has its history of ideas and practices and its traditions of debate. These act as a store of experience, of myths, metaphors and arguments, which those within the field can draw upon in developing their own contributions, either through what they do, or through reflecting on the field. This ‘store’ provides advice, proverbs, recipes and techniques for understanding and acting, and inspiration for ideas to play with and develop.
Philip Allmendinger

3. Systems and Rational Theories of Planning

Abstract
As Taylor (1998) points out, there has been a tendency to conflate systems and rational planning into a broad category of Procedural Planning Theory (PPT). There are some overlaps between the two areas that allow us to consider them in the same chapter. Like rational theories of planning the systems approach is concerned with the generation and evaluation of alternatives prior to making a choice (Faludi, 1987, p. 43). Both, however, are also distinct in important respects. According to Faludi (1987) rational planning makes the crucial distinction between formal (means) and substantive (ends) rationality that systems planning fails to do. Nevertheless, PPT is the label given to both systems and rational planning approaches. Both the systems and rational views rose to prominence in the 1960s and early 1970s and saw planning as a general societal management process (Healey, McDougall and Thomas, 1982). These approaches contrasted sharply with the dominant ‘planning as design’ paradigm. As a reaction against PPT and for other reasons driven by wider social and economic change a number of other positions emerged that both built upon PPT and opposed it. Those that developed from PPT came from the policy sciences and focused on, for example, implementation. Those that opposed it included political economy perspectives such as Marxism (Healey, McDougall and Thomas, 1982).
Philip Allmendinger

4. Critical Theory and Marxism

Abstract
The essence of critical theory1 is to change society rather than simply understand and analyse it. While there are many positions within the broad school of critical theory, particularly those related to the Frankfurt School of thought, we will focus in the first instance upon one main dimension, namely Marxist theory. I go on to highlight later critical theory, developed out of the shortcomings of Marxist thought to come to terms with later incarnations of capitalist society and the failure of Soviet-style interpretations to protect and develop individual freedom. The key proposition of Marxist theory is that urban areas and planning cannot be treated as objects of study separate from society. They are produced by that society and, more fundamentally, have an internal logic and function that is primarily derived from the economic structuring forces within that society – in most cases capitalism. Put simply, cities and planning (including planning theory) are reflections of capitalism and at the same time help constitute it. Such a perspective poses serious challenges to many cherished concepts, particularly in approaches such as those described in the previous chapter. For example, planners often justify planning by reference to the ‘public interest’. According to critical and Marxist perspectives, there is no such public interest but only an interest of capital that projects or creates a state mechanism such as planning to help it continue and give the impression of public control. This amounts to what Nicholas Low (1991, p. 4) has termed a dissenting theory of planning because it is highly critical and yet provides few alternatives to the status quo beyond dismantling it.
Philip Allmendinger

5. Neoliberal Planning

Abstract
Neoliberal theory and thinking has been highly influential in planning and other areas of state activity over the past three to four decades (see, for example, McGuirk, 2005; Andersen and Pløger, 2007; Purcell, 2009; Gunder, 2010; Allmendinger, 2016). While many would not agree with Fukuyama’s rejoicing around the triumph of free-market liberalism following the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe (1989, pp. 3–4), there is little doubt that neoliberal economics has become a dominant paradigm across a wide range of countries. Nevertheless, the term ‘neoliberal’ is a broad one that encompasses a multitude of different emphases and positions. It is also not helped by the rather general and abstract definitions that seem to accompany the term. For example, Swyngedouw (2007) believes neoliberalism involves new modes of socioeconomic regulation and a shift away from distributive policies, welfare considerations and direction service provision towards more market-orientated and market-dependent approaches aimed at pursuing economic growth. This may be so but what does such a shift mean for planning and planners? There has been much talk of the changes to planning being driven by neoliberalism to the point that it is almost a permanent prefix to the word ‘planning’. This combination of ubiquity and vagueness in the understanding of neoliberalism is further underlined by the implications upon different sectors such as planning where there has been a variety of different experiences of neoliberal planning between different places and through time.
Philip Allmendinger

6. Pragmatism

Abstract
Pragmatism and neo-pragmatism are highly practical approaches to planning. Pragmatism emphasizes direct action regarding specific problems – what works best in a given situation or circumstance. This has led some to accuse pragmatism of being conservative and blind to the deeper forces and structuring influences in society. In that respect it is the antithesis of the political economy approach discussed in Chapter 4. Pragmatism has its roots in an historical philosophical dispute regarding the nature of reality and experience. These debates need not concern us too much here. Given the theoretical pluralism in planning, and the evident failings of most of the (theoretical) positions discussed to get to grips with the specific practice of planning anti-theoretical reactions are no surprise. Many planners are now desperately concerned to demonstrate their ‘relevance’ to local councils, to central government and to a highly critical public. The emphasis is on ‘getting things done’ … producing visible results. This is no doubt a commendable objective, but the creation of products in isolation from questions of purposes and values is ultimately a socially dangerous activity. It also makes planners more than usually vulnerable to the charge that they are nothing more than blind operators of the system within which they find themselves.
Philip Allmendinger

7. Planners as Advocates

Abstract
Although this chapter is entitled ‘Planners as advocates’, it covers more diverse and fundamental issues concerning planning. In planning theory, advocacy is normally associated with the work of Paul Davidoff (1930–84), who argued for a deeply personal and highly political view of planning and planners. Such a view is usually contrasted with the more apolitical, technical and bureaucratic perspective and approach of, for example, the systems and rational approaches (see Chapter 3). The division between these two worldviews represented a cleavage that reflected attitudes in society towards the role of the state and what it was attempting to do with the machinery it had established to control development. Thus, this chapter is also about some fundamental questions concerning what planning is and how to go about it. It also raises questions concerning who the planner is planning for – their employee (e.g. a local authority), a wider interest, or a set of values upon which a professional layer of skills and values is added. The systems and rational approaches to planning detailed in Chapter 3 saw it as a technical and not particularly democratic exercise. Planners were experts who could model and predict cities and regions and through the tools of planning control ensure that they worked efficiently and effectively.
Philip Allmendinger

8. After Modernity

Abstract
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.
Philip Allmendinger

9. Planning, Depoliticization and the Post-Political

Abstract
Depoliticization and post-politicization are emerging as popular approaches to help understand contemporary planning and explain the contradiction between, on the one hand, an open and growing commitment on the part of planners to greater public involvement and, on the other, dissatisfaction with and rejection of planning processes and outcomes on the part of the general public and others. How do these approaches fit into the ‘schools of planning theory’ approach in Chapter 2? There is an overlap with and clear links to political economy and collaborative approaches discussed elsewhere in this book though it is fair to say that depoliticization and post-politics are more a lens through which we can frame and understand contemporary planning. There is not a clear distinction between depoliticization and the post-political and both terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, despite the overlaps there are sufficient differences to justify treating the terms and the thinking behind them distinctly. Depoliticization has tended to be seen as a broad process of change and direction of travel that highlights the shifts in the nature of contemporary planning, particularly in Europe and the USA, around circumscribing transparency and accountability and governing with sufficient (but no more) democratic input to maintain legitimacy. Post-politicization or post-politics, on the other hand, focuses more on a series of techniques that defer and displace debate from planning into other, managerial or technical (post-political) arenas.
Philip Allmendinger

10. Post-Structuralism and New Planning Spaces

Abstract
Space is central to planning. As a future-orientated activity planning seeks to manage change in the built and natural environments in an open and accountable way. These two elements – environmental management and accountability – are linked through space and the stakeholders who have an interest in them. A particular space or place – a town, city or neighbourhood – will need to consider and make choices about the future. This is a political process in which competing interests will seek to prevail. The output from that process will normally be a plan or strategy that maps on to the space in order to effect future change. The role of planning is to ensure that the output reflects a wider, public as opposed to narrow, sectional interest. Such an output will have legitimacy because it has been undertaken in an open and impartial way. In recent years both the political and spatial elements of that process have come under scrutiny. The democratic principle – that planning operates in an open and democratic way – has been questioned by those highlighting the mismatch between the demand for greater openness and participation on the one hand and the increasing management of and withdrawal from political consideration of choices in the planning system on the other. In the view of some, planning uses the language and the ‘mood music’ of democracy and openness while in reality carefully managing the options and outcomes in a partial rather than an impartial way. That challenge is the focus of Chapter 9.
Philip Allmendinger

11. Collaborative Planning

Abstract
Like postmodern approaches to planning theory, collaborative planning starts with the question: how can we ‘make sense’ of what is happening and plan for the future within a dynamic and increasingly complex society? When there is wholesale distrust of the political process, a fragmentation into single-issue politics and a plurality of positions, how can we come to agree on matters of concern? The problem for planners is that society is changing and changing quickly, while planning as a practice and as a collection of processes remains wedded to ideas and procedures from a different age. Central to these ideas is the debate over rationality. Despite attempts to improve public involvement and widen participation, planning processes remain dominated by instrumental rationality, born of the Enlightenment and modernity and typified by the systems or synoptic approach to planning of, among others, McLoughlin (1969) and Faludi (1973). This involves separating means from ‘given’ ends and systematically identifying, evaluating and choosing means in a technical and ‘apolitical’ way, as discussed in Chapter 1. The challenge to the systems approach has come from a variety of quarters, not least the political economy-inspired critiques of society and planning. But the normative poverty of this approach is still with us – how can planners work with disparate and diverse communities, reach agreement between them and formulate a ‘plan’? One approach that has gained increasing theoretical popularity is to see planning as a communicative or collaborative process.
Philip Allmendinger

12. Planning, Post-Colonialism, Insurgency and Informality

Abstract
The diffusion and spread of planning has a history as long as planning itself. Sir Patrick Geddes, felt by many to be one of the founding figures of planning, was invited to help plan the city of Madras in India in 1915 in order to help demonstrate the benefits of British rule. Geddes went on to plan a number of Indian and Palestinian cities and developments and he was by no means alone in helping colonial rulers seek to introduce plans and planning, sometimes through negotiation, sometimes in a contested way and in other circumstances through imposition (Ward, 2003). This borrowing of ideas was not confined to developed nations. In post-war Japan, German, British and American planning ideas were rolled out to help reconstruction. More controversially, Ward also claims that Australian planners ‘borrowed’ British planning ideas because ‘the power to make decisions remains in the importing country’ (Ward, 2003, p. 494), a claim that overlooks the indigenous population’s say in such matters. Nevertheless, there are wider points here about the diffusion of planning ideas, the role of power and how planning, in the wider and narrower land use sense, was deployed as a tool of colonization. The colonial dimension of the diffusion of practice and knowledge is an important and growing area of planning thought and research particularly as, despite a widespread retreat from colonial rule by Western powers after the Second World War, the legacy of plans and planning systems has sometimes continued in former colonized countries.
Philip Allmendinger

13. Conclusions

Abstract
I have included a range of what I termed indigenous planning theories in this book that represent distinct but related ‘clusters’ of ideas. The relationships between these different sets of theories can be analysed in a number of ways. I have chosen to draw upon post-positivist ideas concerning socially embedded and contingent foundations to theory and an emphasis on time and space, in particular, as being significant in understanding the origin, use and evolution of theory. While this understanding has a number of advantages and fits in with the zeitgeist of planning theory and social theory generally (see Dear, 2000; Flyvbjerg, 2001), it does have a number of drawbacks. There are three issues that are worthy of mention. The first is the lack of an awareness of cross-cutting themes that are pertinent and significant in each of the schools of thought. The second drawback is the lack of discussion of the ways in which different kinds of theory that do not belong to any particular school (i.e. what I have termed exogenous, framing and social theories) are used by planners. Finally, there is the oversimplistic representation of theory driven by the typology I have employed. I discuss these three issues in more detail below. One of the main problems of this approach is that in drawing together collections of theories it misses a number of recurrent themes, theories and ideas. One theme that I have tried to emphasize is that of relativism, particularly in the collaborative, postmodern and pragmatic approaches and, to a lesser extent, some post-structuralist understandings of space.
Philip Allmendinger
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