Planning in the Face of Power

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University of California Press, Dec 21, 1988 - Social Science - 264 pages
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Why do our best-laid plans often over-reach and under-achieve? Why do our attempts to solve problems in some rational way often run afoul of politics and power? Why do we so often accomplish so little, even as we sense that so much more is possible? By looking closely at the work of city planners, Planning in the Face of Power addresses these questions and provides a new way of thinking about the practical and inevitably political work of improving our neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, and the public institutions that shape our lives.

Power and inequality are realities that planners of all kinds must face in the practical world. In Planning in the Face of Power, John Forester argues that effective, public-serving planners can overcome the traditional—but paralyzing—dichotomies of being either professional or political, detached and distantly rational or engaged and change-oriented. Because inequalities of power directly structure planning practice, planners who are blind to relations of power will inevitably fail. Forester shows how, in the face of the conflict-ridden demands of practice, planners can think politically and rationally at the same time, avoid common sources of failure, and work to advance both a vision of the broader public good and the interests of the least powerful members of society.

This book provides a systematic reformulation of the politics of professional practice in the arena of city planning, public policy making, and public administration and management. It has immediate implications for the study of administration and management and for students of administration and planning in schools of social work, education, and public health. While focusing concretely on problems of planning practice (e.g. planners' sources of influence, their difficulties of listening critically, their understandings of the politics of organizations), Planning in the Face of Power brings to bear a wide range of theoretical insights and so integrates social and political theory with the demands of actual practice. Accordingly, the book will be important to practitioners who seek to understand the pressures they face at work as well as social theorists who wish to integrate theory and practice more powerfully, but will also appeal to the general reader interested in gaining an understanding of the practice of planning in the face of the realities of social equality and power.

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User Review  - sherief - LibraryThing

Dry as a bone, but incredibly comprehensive and intelligent analysis of planning theory and practice delving into epistemology as much as politics. Worth 4 stars just because of its intellectual weight, even if it doesn't quite manage "page-turner" status Read full review


The Challenges of Planning Practice
What Do Planning Analysts Do? Planning and Policy Analysis as Organizing
Planning in the Face of Power
The Politics of Muddling Through
Three Views of Planning Organizations
Planning in the Face of Conflict Mediated Negotiation Strategies in Practice
Listening The Social Policy of Everyday Life
Designing as Making Sense Together
Understanding Planning Practice
Supplement on Planning Education Teaching Planning Practice

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Page 3 - to explore the ways planners can anticipate obstacles and respond practically, effectively, in ways that nurture rather than neglect—but hardly guarantee—a substantively democratic

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About the author (1988)

John Forester is Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University.

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