Town Planning Review

Dilemmas in Critical Planning Theory

Town Planning Review (2002), 73, (4), 417–436.

Abstract

In this paper, it is argued that Critical Planning Theory is inadequate as a planning theory. It ought to search for the means to incorporate the principles of legitimate planning argumentation, derived from Habermas's social theory, to a theory that is able to address planning practices both descriptively and prescriptively—grasping the essence of planning as problem-solving activity that transcends rationality and necessarily manages social relationships. However, Habermas's conceptual separation of communicative and instrumental rationalities, and his total reliance on rationality, make such theoretical work inherently problematic. In order to add descriptive and prescriptive capacity, planning theorists have had to look for other theoretical sources, such as pragmatist systems theory and Foucauldian power analytics, which, however, are incompatible with Habermas's theory of communicative action.

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Mäntysalo, Raine