Giving voice to planning practitioners

Giving voice to planning practitioners

“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 , 6780. 10.1080/01944368208976167 [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]).

* Muhammad Ali (world heavyweight boxing champion).

 

The Advantages of Diversity

The Advantages of Diversity

The Advantages of Diversity is a paper I presented at the Nordregio Forum in Helsingor in 2015 on the topic of how to turn diversity into advantages. It considered how diversity itself is not an easy concept to grasp, as there are new forms of diversity emerging due to population mobility and increasing heterogeneity of migration in terms of country of origin, ethnic groups, legal status and so on. In my presentation I mentioned how challenging it is to design policies addressing these different groups suggesting that policies not only meet the needs of diverse people, but also increase or maintain the competitive advantage of cities. European urban diversity policies are people-based but have shifted towards a neo-assimilationist direction in recent years, meaning that social and cultural aspects of integration dominates policy-making tendencies. Ethnic diversity is highlighted as an economic asset in the policy discourses of some cities (e.g. London), but an ethnicity and race-based approach fails to address the needs and capacities of a complex urban society nowadays. Grouping people into broad categories leads to integration and social-mix policies, which despite good intentions, fail in reality. For more information read the short interview I did titled How can Nordic cities profit from the diversity of their population?

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