The Democratic Plan: Analysis and Diagnosis  book cover
1st Edition

The Democratic Plan: Analysis and Diagnosis

ISBN 9781138260092
Published November 10, 2016 by Routledge
202 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $59.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Despite ongoing technical and professional advances, urban and regional planning is often far less effective than we might hope. Conflicting approaches and variable governmental settings have undermined planning’s legitimacy and allowed its goals to be eroded and co-opted in the face of mounting challenges. Deeper organising principles for self-understanding, action and productive critique are lacking. This book takes steps toward resolving these problems by providing a clear theoretical position to practically examine urban planning systems within democratic governance settings: the basis of planning’s legitimacy and action. Joining practical planning with political science perspectives and the work of critical theorists such as Jürgen Habermas, it directly examines urban planning as a process of governance. The dilemmas inherent to democracy are used as key organising principles and challenges for planning. Collective knowledge development and steering processes are examined as the core purposes of urban planning. Communicative planning’s grounding in the work of Habermas is revisited to develop practical ways of examining overall planning systems. This theoretical approach can be adapted to a range of planning systems and settings beyond those examined in the book, such as corporate or political realms. It is one of only a few analyses that bring together theoretical understandings and grounded and practical analyses of an Australian planning system. Conceptual and highly practical explanations of how and why the Victorian system does and doesn't ’work’ are revealed. The book demonstrates how specific placed-based understandings, and meaningful comparison between planning systems, can be made using critical theory to suggest positive change.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Putting Planning in Its Democratic Place: The problem of planning-as-democracy; Recognising planning's democratic challenges; Why not democratic planning? Part II Planning in a Place: Victoria, Australia: Local repetition, metropolitan vacuum; The local knowledge that repetition makes; Inclusion - at the expense of collective concern?; Problems of steering and scale: from individuals to the centre. Part III Changing a Place: Prognosis to Prescription: Critical potential: urban planning as democracy; Appendices; References; Index.

View More



Alan March, Dr, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Australia.


'Alan March is concerned about why spatial planning practice so often seems to fall short of the expectations of everyone involved in urban development. Utilising Jürgen Habermas' concepts of knowing and steering, he offers a valuable methodology for analysing the effectiveness of planning systems around the democratic world followed by three principles for a practical form of communicative planning. Clearly written, this is a book for planning practitioners, as well as planning students and academics, to understand how they might make a difference to those who seemingly always lose out from planning decisions.' Jean Hillier, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia 'Overall it is a commendable attempt at bridging the practice-theory gap. It covers some complex themes that get to the heart of democratic governance and planning and on the whole these are dealt with clearly and effectively for all readers.' Urban Studies