The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


#128. Context and Power in Contemporary Planning Towards Reflexive Power Analytics

6 November 2005

Authors: Ricardo Cardoso

Publication Date: 2005

Planning is an interventional activity concerned with transformative action that shapes society’s future through perennial recreations of its structures and institutions.  In that sense, striving to reconstruct socioeconomic and environmental structural configurations using collective capacities for human agency within unavoidably multidiverse societies, its interventions are unquestionably political (Harvey, 2000a;  Tewdwr-Jones, 1999). This means that planning is not only a means of social and ecological restructuring action, but also a value-laden political activity within which collective and interactive processes of  negotiation take place "between persons  seeking to change each other and the world, as well as themselves" (Harvey, 2000a: 235;  Healey, 1985; Tewdwr Jones, 1999).

I would argue here (alongside with many others) that, as such its restructuring political practices must be guided by a principle of social  justice. This is not saying that other principles, like efficiency, should not be considered as providing essential guidance for transformative action. It does, however, imply a view of planning as an activity primarily orientated to change to world towards a more socially just society. But what does social justice means in the context of planning? What does it entail?

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