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Feminist Theory and Planning Theory: Lessons from Feminist Epistemologies

  • Author(s): Snyder, Mary Gail
  • et al.
Abstract

At the root of any theory of social practice like planning is an epistemology, a concept of what knowledge is, how it is attained, and who may claim to have it. In planning, where the press of work and current issues in the profession leave little time for philosophical examinations, basic epistemological theory gets understandably short shrift. Nonetheless, it is wise on occasion to step back and examine the theories and ideas underlying our practice, for they are important, whether examined or not. This paper is one contribution to that project. It will examine feminist theoreticians' work on epistemology, and the lessons this work has for planning theory and especially planning practice. The aim is not to examine the impact on specific areas such as land use planning, but on the conception of planning and the ways it is carried out.

The challenges and contributions of this work have many implications for planning theory, going well beyond issues of gender and dealing with power, process, professionalism, and ethics. These issues reach to the foundation of many issues of current importance in planning: defining the public interest, citizen participation, equity, justice, and the legitimation of planning itself.

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