Reason in the City of Difference: Pragmatism, Communicative Action, and Contemporary Urbanism

By Gary Bridge | Go to book overview

7

In city hall

Planning theory has been vitally implicated in ideas of rationality. Indeed forms of rationality stand at the heart of two of its main approaches - the rational comprehensive planning model and the communicative rationality model. Radical planning (including Marxist political economy) sees the rational comprehensive model as hopelessly positivistic and the communicative model as hopelessly naive about structures of power (and both meliorative of capitalism). Rationality is still required by the radical model, however, both to demonstrate the laws of motion of capital and to oppose it with strategically rational social mobilizations. Postmodern planning on the other hand abandons rationality altogether as hopelessly modernist and conferring a logic of identity that denies difference. In this chapter I first discuss the changing relationship of planning to rationality. What I then suggest is the significance of pragmatist planning theory - post-postmodernism. Indeed I argue that planning theory has not been pragmatist enough. Although it has taken us to a consideration of nondiscursive as well as discursive communication (Forester 1989, 2000), that communication is still seen in representative and consensual terms. If communication is viewed agonistically (within communities, and lifeworlds and within voices as well as between them) and as a form of argumentation, we have a much more perspectival view that sustains difference. Understanding these tensions in discourse starts to tackle some of the criticisms that pragmatism is too naive about power and structure. It also addresses critiques, such as Sandercock's (1998), that suggest that it is not able to account for change and transformation. Although respectful of difference, unlike postmodern planning, it retains a vital role for communication across (as well as within) difference and the significance of rationality in that endeavour. Attempts to harmonize agonistic discourse is one facet of pragmatic rationality, and one that leaves us with a very different view of the relationship between planning and urban space. It also suggests a much stronger role for planning than either the postmodern or Marxist prospectuses allow.

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Reason in the City of Difference: Pragmatism, Communicative Action, and Contemporary Urbanism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Reason in the City of Difference 1
  • 2 - On the Body 15
  • 3 - On the Street 39
  • 4 - In the Community 65
  • 5 - In the Public Realm 85
  • 6 - At Work and Home in the Urban Economy 105
  • 7 - In City Hall 125
  • 8 - Cosmopolitan Reason and the Global City 147
  • References 159
  • Index 172
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