The Paradoxes of Planning: A Psycho-Analytical Perspective, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Paradoxes of Planning

A Psycho-Analytical Perspective, 1st Edition

By Sara Westin


304 pages

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Why is it that modern architects and planners - these benevolent and socially visionary experts - have created environments that can make one feel so uneasy? Using a philosophical and psycho-analytical approach, this book critically examines expert knowledge within architecture and urban planning. Its point of departure is the gap between visions and realities, intentions and outcomes in planning, with particular focus on projects in Sweden that try to create an urban atmosphere. Finding insights from the work of Sigmund Freud and his followers, the book argues that urban planning during the 20th century is a neurotic activity prone to produce a type of alienation. Besides trying to understand the gap between intentions and outcomes in planning, the book also discusses how to define the concept of the urban, juxtaposing different knowledge traditions; contrasting the positivistic theory of space syntax with poetic-dialectical approaches, the planner view of the city with that of the flâneur, examining texts by Virginia Woolf and August Strindberg.


As the gifted geographer she is, Sara Westin knows where power is hiding its secrets and revealing its truths: in the gap between good intentions and the world as it is. Set on understanding what is happening in this no-mans land she puts the planning profession on the couch, the tragic structure of thought-and-action laid bare in the process. Quite an achievement, Nietzsche and Freud nodding their heads in recognition.

Gunnar Olsson, Uppsala University, Sweden

Throughout the book Westin continually confronts inconvenient truths in the application of Freudian reason. As an articulation of therapeutic thought, this book is an account of Sara's attempt to seek out a (repressed) truth. Whether interested in psychoanalytical readings of the urban or not, this is a book that should be read by todays doctoral students. It is a lesson on what scholarship can look like Environment and Planning

Society and Space

Table of Contents

Preface; Introduction: the gap; Perspectivism; The eye of the architect - the body of the flaneur; Planning as a neurosis; The impossible profession; Urbanity; The theory of space syntax; Logic - dialectics; Conclusion: planned, all too planned; References; Index.

About the Author

Sara Westin is a Researcher in Human Geography at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Regional Planning
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography