“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”*: giving voice to planning practitioners is the title of an article published in the Planning Theory & Practice Journal. The abstract is below and you can read the full article at Taylor & Francis Online.
Planning schools follow a more or less similar path in educating young practitioners as true guardians of “public interest.” Although planning theory and education define certain ideal roles for planners along this path (e.g. provider of equal access to urban services, distributor of rights to the city, facilitator, negotiator, reflective practitioner, mediator, decision-maker), the actual role of the practicing planner is shaped by the changing contemporary conditions of political economy. We often describe these as neoliberalism, market-led urban development, opportunism, entrepreneurialism, consumerism, financialization, and so on. The rules of the game in the city are defined by these forces, which influence not only the main field of action in planning, but also the experiences of planners in practice. While planning students are taught to be the guardians of the public interest, in the face of the power relations that are shaped by these dynamics, planners usually lack the power to fulfill that role, which surely frustrates them (Forester, 1982 Forester, J. (1982). Planning in the face of power. Journal of the American Planning Association , 48 , 67–80. 10.1080/01944368208976167 ).
* Muhammad Ali (world heavyweight boxing champion).