Town Planning Review

Professionalism and planning in Britain

Town Planning Review (2005), 76, (2), 191–214.

Abstract

The idea of 'the profession' has been vigorously debated and contested in the past half century and the 1980s, in particular, witnessed an assault stemming from disparate origins, on professionalism and the claims by particular occupations to 'exclusive cognitive authority'. However, this assault did not presage the end of professionalism as many predicted and, indeed, there are signs that the academic community is rediscovering the virtues of professional values in an age when consumerism and managerialism have become dominant ideologies. Our purpose in this paper is to locate town planning within this wider debate concerning professionalism. It begins, therefore, by establishing a conceptual framework derived from a review of approaches to the study of the professions and professionalism. This is followed by an examination, in relation to these different approaches, of the literature concerning the profession of planning in Britain with the aim of illuminating some of the particular characteristics, tensions and issues that have been significant in its development. Our purpose is not to establish whether planning is or is not a profession but to identify what is distinctive about it, what issues are currently salient and what they imply for its future, and what are the implications of the analysis for the directions of academic research.

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Campbell, Heather

Marshall, Robert