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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Language of Planning: A Look at the Uses of Critical and Feminist Theory

  • Author(s): Servon, Lisa J.
  • et al.

Planning theory is an ill-defined body of literature that is supposed to guide planning practice. The object of this paper is to challenge the appropriateness of traditional planning theory, to expose the places where it grows thin, and to begin the question-asking process that can lead to change. John Friedmann (1987: 318) writes recently of a "crisis in planning," marked by an apparent failure of scientific and technical reason. In planning, recognition of the inadequacy of the "rational" branch of theory arises from the recognition that planning is messy business, that values vie with facts in a decision-making arena domi­ nated by politics rather than rational objectivity. Acknowledging the political nature of planning entails asking questions about power, about the fault lines along which decisions get made and through which the allocation of resources takes place.

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