Planning and Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Development

By Ersoy, Aksel | The Town Planning Review, November 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Planning and Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Development


Ersoy, Aksel, The Town Planning Review


Planning and Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Development, Enrico Gualini (ed.), Abingdon, Routledge, 2015, 316 pp, £36.99 (paperback), ISBN9780415835855

Conflict has been one of the most discussed subjects in contemporary planning practices. It has been placed at the heart of urban politics because of its relevance to local democracy. While cities are undergoing a severe economic crisis, the significance of conflict becomes more important day by day as institutions fail to serve the expectations and needs of local communities. Planning and Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Development, under the editorship of Enrico Gualini, provides theoretically rich forwardlooking perspectives on engaging with cities and their inhabitants.

The individual papers are full of insight, with informative and contemporary debates that make an excellent contribution to the ongoing discussions concerning planning and conflict. The first part of the book provides a theoretical framework for the concept of conflict in the city and contemporary debates. To cite an instance, in the first chapter, Gualini argues how situated policy practices can contribute to redefining democracy in 'post-politics'. He calls for governance and planning actors to engage with the nature and evolution of forms of social contention as they arise in the field of urban policy and planning. In the second chapter, Gualini and Irene Bianchi illustrate the main contributions to urban research and planning theory that have emerged in the last decade in relation to urban conflicts. They discuss the potential role of conflicts for planning theory and planning studies.

The second part focuses on the dynamics of contention and collective mobilisation in planning conflicts. There are three chapters in this part and they highlight the constitutive role of planning practices in defining the way conflicts are expressed. Chapter 3, by Samuel Mossner and Luis del Romero Renau, focuses on the absence of protest in contentious planning processes. Drawing on Mouffe and Rancière, they reflect on the cultural and institutional factors influencing the emergence and dynamics of collective mobilisation via case studies from Valencia and Frankfurt. In Chapter 4, Carolina Pacchi and Gabriele Pasqui discuss the institutional, social and political conditions that are required to have a public discussion about the spatial development of a city. They show the differences of planning contexts in Milan, where different typologies of conflicts are developed in relation to changing urban politics and policy frameworks. In Chapter 5, Barbara Pizzo and Giacomina Di Salvo adopt an interpretive policy-analysis approach to explore planning as a practice of disguising conflict. …

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