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This article charts predicaments and conundrums associated with the ambition to plan for social justice. Drawing from classical theory on the roles of intellectuals, we identify what we call the “power of representation dilemma.” This dilemma arises because the credentials, knowledge, and skills of intellectuals (like urban planners) make them into powerful agents of social justice but at the same time can put them in a position of power in relation to the very communities they represent and serve. We develop a typology of various strategies for contending with this dilemma and conclude there are no clean ways to resolve the dilemma as each strategy has significant tradeoffs. We encourage a “realpolitik of social justice,” whereby planners become cognizant that there are only imperfect strategies to engage in the politics of social justice. Recognition of their fallibility in the pursuit of noble ideals will make them more reflexive and capable of responding to the inevitability of new injustices and silencings that arise when planning for social justice.
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DOI: 10.1177/1473095215599027
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Planning for social justice:
Strategies, dilemmas,
tradeoffs
Justus Uitermark
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Walter Nicholls
University of California, Irvine, USA
Abstract
This article charts predicaments and conundrums associated with the ambition to plan for social
justice. Drawing from classical theory on the roles of intellectuals, we identify what we call the
“power of representation dilemma.” This dilemma arises because the credentials, knowledge, and
skills of intellectuals (like urban planners) make them into powerful agents of social justice but
at the same time can put them in a position of power in relation to the very communities they
represent and serve. We develop a typology of various strategies for contending with this dilemma
and conclude there are no clean ways to resolve the dilemma as each strategy has significant
tradeoffs. We encourage a “realpolitik of social justice,” whereby planners become cognizant that
there are only imperfect strategies to engage in the politics of social justice. Recognition of their
fallibility in the pursuit of noble ideals will make them more reflexive and capable of responding to
the inevitability of new injustices and silencings that arise when planning for social justice.
Keywords
dilemmas, public intellectuals, social justice, social movements, urban planning
Introduction
While the question of how just societies and cities can be organized has long been central
to the planning profession, recent years have seen renewed engagement with the role
Corresponding author:
Justus Uitermark, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Amsterdam School for Social Science
Research, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 15718, 1001 NE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Email: justusuitermark@hotmail.com
599027
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0010.1177/1473095215599027Planning TheoryUitermark and Nicholls
research-article2015
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2 Planning Theory
planners can or should take in the pursuit of social justice. Prominent figures in the field
have provided explicit and extensive accounts of how planners might promote social
justice, including Susan Fainstein’s The Just City and Edward Soja’s Seeking Spatial
Justice. Planning professionals also made important contributions to the debate on what
the “right to the city” entails and how that right can be enshrined in law and harnessed
through planning practices (Fernandes, 2007). Yet another development is the prolifera-
tion of platforms striving to create synergy between community activism and research,
including numerous “urban labs” and research networks like the Urban Research–Based
Action Network (URBAN). Spurred in part by movements demanding housing improve-
ments and equal treatment (Mitlin and Mogaladi, 2013), recent years have also seen an
outpouring of work at the intersection of critical development studies and planning
which has developed concepts like “insurgent planning” to reconceive the relationships
between planners and their subjects (e.g. Miraftab, 2009). The renewed buzz around
social justice suggests that, at least in some corners of the planning profession, criticism
of instrumental and neoliberal reasoning is gaining ground. Instead of accommodating
economic growth and serving dominant elites, these planners are seeking to promote and
implement visions of the just city.
What dilemmas do planners face in the pursuit of social justice? And what strategies
have they developed to handle these dilemmas? This article reviews a number of contri-
butions that seek to answer these questions. We are especially interested in contributions
that discuss how planners relate to marginalized communities, that is, communities suf-
fering from stigmatization and multiple forms of deprivation. Working for or with mar-
ginalized communities raises distinct and vexing questions. We address some of these
questions through a discussion of what we refer to as the “power of representation
dilemma.” This dilemma arises from the relatively privileged position of the planner
compared to marginalized communities. On the one hand, planners can decide to use
their status, knowledge, and professional skills to the fullest. In this way, they effectively
promote their view of social justice in the planning process and can assertively represent
the interests of marginalized communities to administrators and other influential actors.
However, when they wield power in this way, they run the risk of assuming positions of
superiority during struggles for equality and sidelining segments of marginalized com-
munities with different conceptions of what justice entails or how it should be achieved.
On the other hand, planners can decide not to capitalize on their privileges. Instead of
promoting their own views of social justice, they can aspire to be servants of marginal-
ized communities by communicating their views and translating their ideals into con-
crete programs. However, this may mean that planners swallow their own ideas of what
social justice entails or forego opportunities to capitalize on their privileges. Moreover,
while planners who adopt a role as servants of marginalized communities may not osten-
tatiously usurp power and assume leading positions, they inevitably will be selective in
promoting some interests and ideas rather than others. Since marginalized communities
do not speak with one voice and will always be heterogeneous, even the most self-effac-
ing planners will bring their own views and interests to bear on the planning process.
We argue that the power of representation dilemma can be handled in different ways
but it cannot be fully resolved. It is a genuine dilemma because status, knowledge, and
skills are necessary in struggles for equality but the unequal distribution of these resources
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Uitermark and Nicholls 3
produces new hierarchies during the process of achieving equality. While their status,
knowledge, and professional skills make planners into effective “agents of social justice”
(Krase, 1997: 17), their control over these resources puts them in a position of power in
relation to the very communities they represent and serve. Different strategies for han-
dling the power of representation dilemma produce different tradeoffs, with planners and
communities having to decide which of these are the most acceptable to their own values
and political goals.
To chart the stakes and the tradeoffs involved in planning for justice, this article
examines how recent theorizing conceives social justice and community engagement. Its
first section, “Intellectuals and marginalized communities: toward a typology of justice
strategies,” examines the position of planners within wider contexts by drawing upon
general theories on the relations between intellectuals and the marginalized people they
seek to represent and serve. This theoretical excursion results in a typology of four dif-
ferent conceptions planners can have with respect to the meaning of social justice and
their relation to marginalized communities. These four different conceptions are then
examined in the subsequent sections and illustrated with examples from the planning
literature. Our purpose is not to argue that one position is intrinsically better than another;
each position has specific tradeoffs in the sense that achieving certain goals comes at the
cost of other goals. The tradeoffs imply that important choices have to be made. We
therefore encourage planners to embrace a “realpolitik of social justice,” whereby they
become cognizant that there are only imperfect strategies to engage in the politics of
social justice.
Intellectuals and marginalized communities: toward a
typology of justice strategies
Throughout the years, intellectuals have devised and debated strategies concerning intel-
lectual interventions in the struggles of marginalized people. The central issue fueling
the debates was how to put the special assets of intellectuals (credentials, knowledge, and
skills) in the service of their quest for social justice (Nicholls and Uitermark, 2015).
These discussions are important for planners because planners are specific type of intel-
lectuals as they have credentials, specific forms of knowledge, and professional skills
that most people in marginalized communities lack. This section therefore places the
dilemmas facing planners within the broader and longer lasting debates concerning the
roles of intellectuals in movements for social justice.
Intellectuals and social movements
Although Vladimir Lenin’s ideology has been widely discredited, the question posed in
the title of his best-known essay—“what is to be done?”—still serves as key reference
in debates on the role of intellectuals. Lenin embraced a classically Jacobin view of the
intellectual and formalized this view into a concrete strategy of political action (King
and Szeléyni, 2004; Mayer, 1994). Lenin believed that “scientific knowledge” allowed
Marxist intellectuals to analyze the essential causes of inequalities, identify the true
interest of the working class, and fashion long-term revolutionary strategies on their
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4 Planning Theory
behalf. By contrast, the squalid conditions of the working class made it difficult for
them to transcend the particular struggles of daily life and understand the deeper causes
of inequalities. The constraints imposed on the working class tempted most to forego
the distant goal of true equality for short-term bread and butter concessions. The work-
ing class, in other words, suffered from “trade union consciousness,” which hampered
its abilities to achieve true equality on its own (Mayer, 1994: 673). Intellectuals pro-
duced the ideas needed to allow the working class to see the general truth in their par-
ticular situations and guide them toward a truly just society. In assuming this role,
dedicated intellectuals would become the vanguard of the proletariat. While this posi-
tion is strongly associated with Lenin, others have also argued that intellectuals uniquely
possess transcendent knowledge. For instance, utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer
(1972) is rooted in a very different political tradition but similarly argues that some
people, that is, professional philosophers, are better placed than others to arrive at sound
conclusions about moral conduct. Professional philosophers, according to Singer
(1972), can transcend “unreflective intuitions” (p. 117) because they have the time to
collect facts and the competence to think through the moral course of action. The idea
that a true sense of the just society can be achieved by detachment from people’s par-
ticular features and conditions (such as race or class position) also informs Rawls’
(1971) thought experiment of the “veil of ignorance.” Just as “bread and butter” issues
hamper the ability of the proletariat to envision “true” equality, context-specific particu-
larisms also limit the abilities of people to conceive and enact social justice. The intel-
lectual’s role is therefore to recover the hidden truth from the multiple struggles that
encumber people in their everyday lives. In this view, detachment from people’s experi-
ences in everyday life is a necessary tradeoff for achieving a superior sense of what
social justice entails and how it can be achieved.
Many intellectuals have argued against the view that being embedded in everyday life
facilitates rather than frustrates the pursuit of social justice. Antonio Gramsci (1971), for
instance, questioned the assumption that intellectuals possess a monopoly on legitimate
knowledge and argued that “all men are intellectuals but not all men have in society the
function of intellectuals” (Gramsci, 1971: 121). For Gramsci, the problem is not the
working class’ lack of knowledge but the obfuscation of this knowledge by ideology.
Dominant bourgeois ideology produces a “common sense” that blocks workers from
employing their inherent knowledge to identify their true, universal interests. “Organic
intellectuals” (part-time theorists, organizers, teachers, religious leaders, planners, etc.)
aligned with the working class play an important role because they can employ their
skills and proximity to working-class communities to wipe away these ideological blin-
ders. The “organic intellectual” is not teaching them what is good and bad but helping
them to recover what workers already know for themselves to be true. Following
Gramsci’s lead, Paulo Freire (1970) created a method (“pedagogy of the oppressed”) for
organic intellectuals to “raise the consciousness” (“conscientização”) of marginalized
communities. The method encourages organic intellectuals to use the in-built knowledge
of these communities to identify and mobilize against injustices in their daily lives
(O’Cadiz et al., 1998). Marginalized communities therefore had in-built knowledge that
is largely consistent with the knowledge of Marxist intellectuals. These communities do
not need intellectuals to lead them. They need organic intellectuals to help break through
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Uitermark and Nicholls 5
ideological mystifications and guide them to what they already knew to be true and just.
The idea that intellectuals are capable of helping people articulate what they already
know can also be found in other traditions. For instance, Amartya Sen’s Capability
Approach is based on the idea that people should have the freedom to pursue well-being
in ways they see fit. However, there is a caveat, because Sen argues that they should have
the capability to achieve the lives they have reason to value, which may be something
else than the lives they actually value (Sen, 1999). Sen believes that marginalized com-
munities may internalize hardship, adapting their preferences to their conditions rather
than the other way around. While Gramsci, Freire, and Sen value marginalized commu-
nities as sources of political action and knowledge, they continue to embrace a substan-
tive and fixed ideal of social justice. This means that in the last instance traditional
intellectuals possess the knowledge to distinguish between true and false consciousness
(or, in Sen’s case, real or adapted preferences). While this conception values marginal-
ized communities, the tradeoff is that it does so selectively—the knowledge, aspirations,
and insights of marginalized communities are only promoted and validated when they
align with the historical mission that intellectuals have charted.
Opposing the denunciation of marginalized communities’ understanding of their own
position, Michel Foucault argues that it is not the task of intellectuals to promote concep-
tions of justice (Foucault, 1982, 1984; Foucault and Deleuze, 1977). Foucault believes
that marginalized people already have full knowledge of their problems, interests, and
grievances. They do not need intellectuals to guide them, reveal hidden truths or injus-
tices, or raise their consciousness because that consciousness was already well devel-
oped (Eribon, 1991: 253). An extended quote illustrates well why Foucault feels that
intellectuals should not define and impose a fixed ideal of justice on the communities
they are working with:
In the most recent upheaval [May 1968], the intellectual discovered that the masses no longer
need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better
than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of
power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and his knowledge, a power not
only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly
penetrates an entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of the system of
power—the idea of their responsibility for “consciousness” and discourse forms part of the
system. The intellectual’s role is no longer to place himself “somewhat ahead and to the side”
in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather it is to struggle against the forms
of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of “knowledge,”
“truth,” “consciousness,” and “discourse.” (Foucault, in Foucault and Deleuze interview,
1977: 207–208)
While Foucault rejects the idea of the universal intellectual, he embraces the notion
of the specific intellectual. Specific intellectuals are experts—planners, architects,
teachers, psychiatrists, lawyers, and so on—whose work blurs the distinction between
theoretical and practical knowledge. These specific intellectuals encountered countless
problems in their practices, leading many to acknowledge and support the concrete
struggles of those they were supposed to discipline. Specific intellectuals would not
use their theoretical knowledge to reveal the universal and fixed truth underlying
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6 Planning Theory
specific resistances but play a supportive role by contributing their technical skills to
advance the struggles of groups in particular institutional sites (Eribon, 1991).
1
His
views are echoed by Gilled Deleuze and developed further by Jacques Rancière (1989,
1993, 2012) who both strongly criticize intellectuals who claimed to speak for others.
While Marxist intellectuals feel that intellectuals have a superior understanding of
social struggle, Foucault, Deleuze, and Rancière argue that workers and other oppressed
communities know best what their struggles are about. What these communities need
are technical skills and information to express their voices in more effective ways. In
Foucault’s view, the role of the intellectual therefore resembles that of the worker in
Marxist theory: intellectuals may not have an exceptionally profound understanding of
what the social conflict is about but they have specific skills and knowledge that can
be used to advance the cause (Nicholls and Uitermark, 2015). While Foucault, Deleuze,
and Rancière resolved some problems associated with strong conceptions of justice,
their solutions also involve important tradeoffs. One such tradeoff is that their insist-
ence on local and sectoral struggles makes it difficult to conceive of broader struggles
transcending particular conditions. By declaring as “absolutely fundamental: the indig-
nity of speaking for others” (Deleuze, in Foucault and Deleuze interview: 1977: 209),
the possibility of expressing solidarity for people with different backgrounds or in
different conditions seems foreclosed (Alcott, 1991–1992). Another tradeoff stems
from the assumption that subaltern groups are a sovereign subject, undeceived and
undivided, foreclosing “the necessity of the difficult task of counterhegemonic ideo-
logical production” (Spivak, 1988: 69). Rather than engaging full on with the issue that
intellectuals play a role in selecting, mediating, and connecting—in a word, silencing
and amplifying—different voices, Foucault and his colleagues deny that intellectuals
play such a role.
Toward a typology of justice strategies and their tradeoffs
This discussion of the roles of intellectuals shows there are different ways to handle the
power of representation dilemma. Some feel that it is the task of intellectuals to articulate
a clear sense of what social justice is and how it could be achieved. The knowledge and
theory of intellectuals provide them with a strong substantive understanding of justice,
which allows them to steer the masses to a more just society. Others feel that marginal-
ized communities, not intellectuals, have the capacities to understand the meaning of
their own grievances and desires. Rather than assume there is a universal “social justice”
that is detectable by intellectuals, they believe that marginalized groups have their own
ideas of the good and just society and do not need intellectuals to serve as their guides
and conscience. By embracing a weak understanding of justice, they seek to open up a
space for multiple notions of justice to bubble up from the everyday and specific strug-
gles of marginalized communities.
A related but distinct issue is the relationship of the intellectual to marginalized com-
munities; some feel that intellectuals should be independent from particular communi-
ties—they need to retain a certain distance in order to keep an eye on the bigger picture
and avoid being caught up in the particularistic and short-term squabbles that make up
the everyday struggles of marginalized communities. Others feel, in contrast, that
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Uitermark and Nicholls 7
intellectuals should engage with, or be an integral part of, communities. Rather than
avoid the squabbles of everyday life, intellectuals (especially organic and specific intel-
lectuals) should lend their knowledge and skills to advance and accelerate micro-resist-
ances. The typology in Table 1 maps these different strategies of intellectuals to deal with
the power of representation dilemma.
2
Planners and marginalized communities: dilemmas of
planning the just city
Although few planners root their practice in theorizing on intellectuals, the general
discussion above is relevant for reflecting on the positions planners can take and
understanding the tradeoffs involved. All intellectuals (from traditional to specific) in
pursuit of social justice confront the power of representation dilemma, including
planners. When planners represent certain communities or conceptions of justice,
they evoke and acknowledge some instead of other people, interests, and values. The
discourse and practice of progressive (or any other form of) planning thus entails
strategic silencing and it is important to acknowledge these silences to chart what dif-
ferent strategies sacrifice in their quest for social justice. Table 2 provides a typology
of planning strategies.
Table 1. Strategies and tradeoffs for intellectuals in pursuit of social justice.
Substantive conception of justice
Weak Strong
Engagement with
community
Strong Positive: Recognition of
marginalized communities
as fully equal and capable
of engaging as full citizens;
encourages grassroots
diversity and the voice of
multiple others
Negative: Prone to short
termism, cooptation, and
fragmentation across different
marginalized communities—
no common concept of justice
to bridge differences across
communities
Positive: Recognition of
marginalized communities as
potentially able to recognize their
true interests; use of substantive
knowledge to steer movements
toward more just societies and
avoid state cooptation; broad
framework to retain a common
movement made up of different
communities
Negative: Continue to value one
knowledge over others; requires
silencing alternative ideas of justice
Weak Positive: Strong leadership and
vision of justice provides goals
for achieving longer term goals of
equality and justice
Negative: Devalues the
particularistic knowledge of
communities and their qualities as
fully equal members of the polity
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8 Planning Theory
Table 2. Typology of planning strategies.
Substantive conception of justice
Weak Strong
Engagement with
communities
Strong Collaborative planning Insurgent planning
Patsy Healey Faranak Miraftab
Advocacy planning
Edward Soja
Paul Davidoff
Weak Rationalist-
instrumental planning
Planning for
universal justice
Susan Fainstein
Specific types of planning strategies can be placed throughout this table, depending on
the particular ways in which they conceive social justice and community participation. In
the bottom-left corner, we find planners who do not seek to engage communities or
espouse social justice. With an appeal to values like efficiency or rationality, they plan for
the “optimal” use of space, with “optimal” being defined according to dominant norms
and values. Planners in the other three quadrants do seek progressive change. In the top-
left quadrant, we find collaborative planning. Collaborative planners seek to strengthen
community power over planning ideas and practices. Such planning is not devoid of con-
ceptions of justice but they are procedural rather than substantive as for collaborative
planners the inclusion of various stakeholders is more important than the outcome of
planning. The work of Patsy Healey exemplifies this type of approach as she explores
ways to foster “collaborative, consensus-building practices” (Healey, 2006: 5). Recent
examples of this collaborative mode of planning include “urban labs” that aim to bring
together a range of stakeholders with experts in a joint effort to develop projects and
places. In the top-right corner, we find scholars with a strong conception of justice who
also seek to involve communities. In contrast to collaborative planners, their goal is not to
establish consensus or involve all stakeholders but to tip the balance of power so that their
substantive ideas of what justice entails are realized. One example is Jay Arena (2012)
who provides a sharp criticism of non-governmental organizations and academics ignor-
ing, co-opting, or stifling resistance against displacement and the destruction of public
housing. Finally, in the bottom-right corner, we find approaches emphasizing universal
principles of social justice. One example— discussed more fully below—is Susan
Fainstein. Needless to say, categorizing planning intellectuals within a two-dimensional
space does not do full justice to the complexity of their positions. For instance, Fainstein
includes democracy (largely operationalized as community engagement) among her crite-
ria for a just city. Similarly, Healey’s discussion of proper procedures implies that such
procedures lead to substantive conceptions of justice. Moreover, there are intellectuals
who adapt their position to the situation at hand or develop intermediate positions.
However, the goal of the typology is not to comprehensively discuss the work of these
intellectuals but to provide a rough guide into the tradeoffs associated with different strat-
egies for creating just and democratic cities.
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Uitermark and Nicholls 9
Planning for the “Just City”: Susan Fainstein as universal planning
intellectual
Fainstein’s The Just City falls in the tradition of the universalist intellectual who decides,
independently and on theoretical grounds, what course should be steered. She believes
that developing a definition of justice is the first step to producing more just cities and
discusses different notions of justice to come up with her own universal and transcendent
idea of what justice is. Drawing on Rawls, among others, Fainstein states that the
“emphasis on justice can be defended in terms of a communicative consensus at the high-
est level of articulation; it then becomes a universal principle rather than one negotiated
in each interaction” (Fainstein, 2010: 10). This is both a synthetic and definitive exercise
in the sense that she expertly decides how to assemble different ideas of justice into a
coherent working definition and program. For Fainstein, the just city is a city that is
diverse, democratic and, above all, equitable. By comparing Amsterdam, New York, and
London, she shows that within the capitalist system meaningful differences exist between
different cities; Amsterdam scores best on her indicators of justice, New York is the
worst, and London falls somewhere in between. By identifying the decisions and institu-
tions that guarantee more equitable outcomes in Amsterdam, Fainstein provides guid-
ance to practitioners and administrators seeking to promote social justice in the city.
Toward the end of the book she provides a set of guidelines that could help politicians
and practitioners to realize what she calls, after Fraser (2003), “nonreformist reforms,”
which would operate within existing social frameworks but open up possibilities of more
radical reforms over time (Fainstein, 2010: 18–19). Knowing what “justice” means pro-
vides the planner with the reference, the categorical imperative, to wade through noise
and distractions of everyday life, identify and combat specific expressions of injustice,
and strive to achieve the just city.
Rather than proposing certain planning procedures, Fainstein deliberately privi-
leges a substantive conception of justice and derives recommendations of policy meas-
ures from this conception (Fainstein, 2010: 9). Her reason for this stance is that she
feels that ideals and practices of communicative or deliberative planning processes are
easily perverted. She criticizes collaborative planning for failing to account for ine-
qualities. The theory of deliberative democracy undergirding these planning philoso-
phies “does not adequately confront the constraints on democracy in a society where
resources are privately owned and controlled” (Fainstein, 2010: 28). Planners seeking
to include all stakeholders into democratic decisions may recognize rather than ques-
tion these parties and their interests. When Fainstein speaks of “the community,” she
uses inverted commas to emphasize that communities do embody different ideas, ide-
als, and interests (e.g. Fainstein, 2010: 128). Fainstein’s criticism of collaborative
planning highlights the important point that there is a tradeoff between planning for
justice and planning for (or with) communities. While collaborative planners assume
that just outcomes will be generated under conditions of maximum democratic repre-
sentation, Fainstein suggests that in practice, communities may often end up serving
their narrow self-interest and elect to pursue policies incompatible with the values of
equity, diversity, and democracy. “In an unequal society,” Fainstein argues, “democ-
racy and justice are frequently at odds” (Fainstein, 2010: 30).
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10 Planning Theory
There is, however, also a tradeoff to Fainstein’s approach to social justice. It provides
little space for people within cities to employ their own concepts of justice. One reason
for this is that Fainstein accepts capitalism as the framework in which decisions have to
be made. Another reason, more pertinent to the present discussion, is that she also has
rather strict ideas about which decisions would have to be made and who should make
them. The role of the planner is to keep out stakeholders holding views different to
Fainstein’s. In The Just City, “political masters” and “clients” appear not as (elected)
representatives or possible partners, but as detractors. In their role as bureaucrats,
Fainstein suggests, planners can “use their control over information to bend their politi-
cal superiors to their will” (p. 180). She acknowledges that planners “require some sup-
port from a political base” (p. 181) but this support is only a tool in the pursuit of justice
as defined by Fainstein, something that should be pursued even in the absence of support
from politicians or political bases—“regardless of authorization or not, justice is a goal
to continually press for” (p. 181). Fainstein thus provides planners with a strong mandate
to pursue social justice based on their role as professionals and experts. If performed
according to her plans, this would result in a more equitable city but the tradeoff is that
it would also create a city where planners maximize their power by strategically exploit-
ing their superior command over the bureaucracy to push aside alternative agendas,
interests, and conceptions. Although Fainstein lists “democracy” among the three values
for a just city, it appears that planners have to stick to their own substantive conception
of justice, even if citizens, their associations, or their elected representatives would have
different ideas.
Spatial justice from below: Edward Soja as the democratic socialist
planner
Like Fainstein, Soja develops a strong substantive idea of social justice. Drawing largely
from the works of Iris Marion Young and Henri Lefebvre, he dedicates the first part of
his book to developing his idea of “spatial justice” and discussing the ways in which this
would help create more equitable and democratic city-regions. Unlike Fainstein, he also
strongly embraces the ideal of community engagement and outlines the ways in which
planners can work with marginalized communities to bring about just cities. The urban
planning department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) promoted
discourses and practices that made community engagement a central component of
achieving more social justice in the city. The model the department pursued
revolved not around paid consultancy with governments and large funding agencies but [was
based] on voluntary assistance to and educational emphasis on constituencies usually given
little attention by university researchers and professors, such as labor unions, community-based
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups aiming to empower social movements
among the poor and disadvantaged populations. (Soja, 2010: 157)
Urban planners at UCLA developed strong connections to various activist clusters, com-
bining the provision of technical assistance to targeted communities with the promotion
of grassroots activism (Soja, 2010: 160). The department functioned as a networking hub
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Uitermark and Nicholls 11
in the sense that it fostered ties among various activist groups and thus enabled activists
to look beyond their own specific sectors, interests, and mindsets (Nicholls, 2003). It
developed a spatially sensitive discourse of social justice, provided valuable technical
expertise to resource-poor communities, and cultivated ties to activists mobilizing with
workers, women, immigrants, and tenants (Nicholls, 2003). The battles for social justice
obviously brought about incremental improvements rather than a revolution but it is
important to note that seemingly small struggles within specific domains were informed
by general understandings of the development of capitalism as well as “utopian socialist
and social anarchist ideas” (Soja, 2010: 161).
Soja’s prescriptions differ from Fainstein’s in several ways. While in Fainstein’s work
planners form a corpus of professionals independent from both communities and admin-
istrations, the planner in Soja’s text is firmly embedded in the trenches of urban social
movements, working to bring together different currents to move the city toward social
and spatial justice. The role of the urban planners in these processes of politicization is
to provide a crystallization point where general discourses can be translated into specific
applications and where groups operating in various sectors can be connected. Soja
stresses the idea that spatial justice is not only about the equitable distribution of goods
and rights between social groups, but also ensuring an active role of all urban users (cita-
dins) in appropriating and producing urban space on the basis of use instead of exchange
value. In this context, the planners must take sides in the struggle for justice and throw
their lot directly on the side of those being marginalized by state and economic power.
Planners are conceived as organic intellectuals very much in the Gramscian tradition,
working through the trenches of civil society to build a counter-public and counter-
hegemony in cooperation with other activists and organizations.
However, while Soja provides a “bottom-up” view of the planner, he still assumes
(like Fainstein) that there is some ideal-typical form of socio-spatial justice. Performing
a synthetic exercise similar to Fainstein’s, he draws on the work of several theorists to
develop a working definition of “spatial justice.” While they engage with many others in
this struggle, planners also bear the substantive knowledge of what “spatial justice” is
and should reveal this knowledge to the others. He argues that a “critical spatial aware-
ness” originated in the university and its “spread” occurred through ongoing engagement
between academics (at UCLA in particular) and urban activists throughout the Los
Angeles region. For example, he draws special focus to the important role of Los Angeles
Alliance for a New Economy. He notes that
While not evident in all LAANE’s projects, a critical spatial awareness informed many of its
practices and was promoted and sustained by an extraordinary flow of hired student researchers
and activists from Urban Planning at UCLA, at least 30 over the past 15 years, with several
entering into executive and managerial roles. (Soja, 2010: 158)
By suggesting that university-trained planners have a unique insight into this “critical
spatial awareness,” those in possession of it must assume a leading role in struggles to
produce a more just city.
3
The tradeoff with Soja’s approach is that communities are
engaged but under the planners’ terms. Planners partake in active struggle and become
part of community activism but they are still in the last instance intellectuals who hold
substantive and theoretical knowledge that enables them to see what others cannot.
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12 Planning Theory
Collaborative planning: just processes
Acknowledging the risks of imposing predefined and substantive ideas of what cities
ought to look like, a large number of scholars and activists have argued for collaborative
and participatory methods that allow a wide range of actors to arrive at joint understand-
ings and goals through continued dialogue. Proponents of communicative or collabora-
tive planning have argued that the planners’ task is to help create a communicative space
where different stakeholders can reconcile their differences and work together (cf.
Healey, 2006). In this understanding, a substantive definition of social justice is not a
prerequisite for the promotion of social justice and may even be a hindrance as it
implies—as we also argued above—that alternative views are marginalized or ignored.
Instead of deciding what is substantively just, the main concern of scholars and activists
committed to collaboration is to decide what is procedurally just. Intellectuals play spe-
cific roles in this process as they set up the platforms and means of communication
through which dialogue and collaboration can proceed.
Patsy Healey is one prominent proponent of this collaborative approach to planning.
Acknowledging that places are subject to competing claims, Healey (1997) feels that
there is a need for “a capacity to interrelate issues to do with economic development,
environmental quality, and social quality of life within a framework which acknowledges
the different and diverse stakeholders in the dynamics of urban region change” (p. 82).
The task of planning is to provide such a framework by working toward “the collective
management of shared concerns about spatial and environmental qualities, expressed in
explicit policies which emphasize a strategic orientation to co-ordination between diverse
actions and a relation between policy and action” (Healey, 1997). Healey is very explicit
in acknowledging that planning involves power. She draws on Foucault, Davidoff, and
Lukes to suggest that formal planning procedures as well as informal planning cultures
privilege some interests and stakeholders over others (Healey, 1997: 84–85). Moreover, in
Collaborative Planning itself, and especially in a reflection on the book (Healey, 2003),
Healey indicates that her approach to planning was meant to redeem local and collective
agency in the face of challenges posed from neoliberalism in general and Thatcher’s neo-
liberal government in particular. While she acknowledges the formidable power of neolib-
eralism at the global and national levels, her concern is not to challenge neoliberalism
head-on but to develop an approach that allows local actors to be acknowledged as legiti-
mate stakeholders and enables them to transcend their cultural differences and material
interests. Although Healey is thus sensitive to power, in her view, the planners role is not
to promote a vision of what is substantively just or to identify wrongs but to assist in rec-
onciling different interests through a process of mediation. One recent example of such a
collaborative effort is the URBAN, established in 2012. This network is one among many
networks, labs, and platforms aiming to bring together communities, activists, and schol-
ars but it is particularly ambitious and has raised debates among urban and planning schol-
ars. The initial development of URBAN was concentrated at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT) but currently offshoots are established across the United States and
plans are being made to set up affiliates internationally. The rationale for the network is
stated as follows: “An emerging set of collaborations between scholars and activists is
creating living laboratories for hands-on, community-based research that grapples with
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Uitermark and Nicholls 13
critical issues emerging in cities and proposes innovative policy solutions to advance
social equity” (URBAN, 2012: 1). URBAN intends to pioneer such collaboration by cre-
ating online and offline learning environments. The challenge is to design these environ-
ments in such a way that they can deal with “competing logics, incompatible styles of
discourse and attitudes towards authority, or inaccessibility of methods and results, all of
which can undermine collaboration” (URBAN, 2012: 3). While scholars like Fainstein
and Soja depart from a substantive understanding of social justice, URBAN explicitly
recognizes “the equivalence of non-technical expertise” and emphasizes the involvement
of “multiple stakeholders and disciplines” (URBAN, n.d.: 2).
Collaborative planners evade some of the problems faced by Fainstein and Soja in the
sense that there is no substantive definition of social justice imposed on the collaborative
process. Moreover, whereas both Fainstein and Soja believe that intellectuals in the end
should have a greater say in how justice is articulated and put into practice, collaborative
planners make no such assumption and have as an explicit starting point that “non-technical
expertise” should be valued. In this sense, Healey, URBAN, and other collaborative planners
resemble a contemporary variant of Foucault’s specific intellectual. Collaborative planners
may be in possession of valuable skills but they wish to employ these skills to enable “multi-
ple stakeholders” to express themselves and collaborate. Collaborative planners practice
what Foucault preached: intellectuals are a mere tool for the realization of others’ desires.
However, the lack of substantive definitions of social justice or privileging of intel-
lectuals does come at a cost. Power differences between different stakeholders are left
implicit or covered in such clinical terms as “competing logics.” It seems as if “commu-
nities” are homogeneous in terms of composition and interest as no differentiations are
made in how different people or interests are involved. Collaborative planners typically
want to bring together actors with different interests and perspectives but do not attend
to the inequalities among these actors. For that reason, collaborative planners’ commit-
ment to recognizing the interests and perspectives of different stakeholders risks natural-
izing inequalities among them. As Purcell (2009) argues, collaborative planning may
help neoliberal policies to overcome legitimacy problems by maintaining “hegemony
while ensuring political stability” (p. 140). Soja’s and Fainstein’s substantive concep-
tions of justice enable them to say how and where they would want to intervene. As long
as they lack such a rationale, collaborative planners run the risk of adjusting their prac-
tices to accommodate rather than overcome inequalities. A number of scholars have sug-
gested that the participatory policies often end up co-opting and constraining activists
with more radical demands (Arena, 2012; Miraftab, 2009; Purcell, 2009). This then
raises the question of whether it is possible to have a radical conception of justice and a
radical commitment to community engagement. The tradeoffs associated with the prior-
itization of community engagement are that broader structures of inequality and exploi-
tation remain uncontested and that planners will be inclined to accommodate rather than
confront power disparities within communities.
Justice on the margins: insurgent planners
While the ideas discussed in the previous sections have been developed to make sense of
the cities in the Global North, there is a strand of theorizing that looks for what
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14 Planning Theory
just planning may entail at the globe’s urban peripheries. This strand of theorizing uses
concepts like “insurgent citizenship” (Holston, 2008) to rethink objects and subjects of
planning. Many cities in the Global South are not subject to planning in the usual sense
of the term as they largely defy state efforts at regulation and organization (Simone,
2010). Where the grasp of state bureaucracies and formal markets is incomplete, urban
space is produced through informal modes of development. In such conditions, “plan-
ning” is not the provenance of accredited experts operating within agencies or universi-
ties but an emergent or insurgent collective endeavor. Faranak Miraftab (2009) defines
insurgent planning as “those radical planning practices that respond to neoliberal specif-
ics of dominance through inclusion” (p. 32). This concept is meant to transcend the divi-
sion between planners and their subjects, thus radicalizing critical perspectives (cf.
Friedmann, 1987): “critical perspectives remained within the bounds of conventional
wisdom that conceptualized planners as professionals who stand outside the society,
though reaching out to citizens for inclusion, perhaps through redistribution but at least
communication” (Miraftab, 2009: 42). To the extent that professional planners have a
role to play in insurgent planning, they immerse themselves in the communities they
work with and for. Katherine Rankin provides one example of such a practice as she
joined the Board of Management of her local Business Improvement Area as a resident
representative and volunteered to develop a “Community Safety Plan.” Rejecting narrow
understandings of safety based in law and order, she explores the concept of “safety” in
relation to gentrification and exclusion (Rankin, 2010: 194). Jay Arena’s work on New
Orleans also falls in this area as he worked with community groups to resist the displace-
ment of public housing residents before and after Hurricane Katharina.
These scholars are specific intellectuals in the sense that they promote the devotion of
planning skills and resources to communities but they propose to do so in a way very
different from collaborative planners. Characteristic of insurgent planning is an acute
recognition that collaboration can result in complicity when “inclusion” or “participa-
tion” serves to streamline rather than obstruct regressive processes. In contrast to col-
laborative planners, these scholars have a more substantive notion of justice. Community
engagement is only validated and recognized if it results in challenges against neoliberal-
ism. Thus, Miraftab (2009) reserves the concept of “insurgent planning” for “radical
planning practices” resisting neoliberalism (p. 32, emphasis added). Insurgent planners
do not practice what Foucault preached but what he practiced: they engage communities
selectively by amplifying voices demanding radical change rather than mere reforms.
4
Insurgent planners’ strong involvement with communities and their substantive
understandings of social justice safeguard them to a degree against charges of top-down
imposition of ideas or complicity-through-collaboration. However, these strong stances
do come at a cost. Some segments of the communities insurgent planners work with may
not share their view that complicity with neoliberalism has to be prevented at all costs.
In her study on gentrifying communities, Rankin (2010) found that “the challenge of
building a constituency for critical action is formidable in the context of commercial
gentrification because most stakeholders, even commercial tenants at risk of displace-
ment, imagine they stand to benefit” (p. 193). There is a risk that the conviction that
neoliberalism can be fought through the mobilization of affected communities idealizes
the “propensity for collective consciousness and a romantic portrayal of subalterns as
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Uitermark and Nicholls 15
essentially good political subjects” (Rankin, 2010: 189). People often are not fully com-
mitted to collective action and may be more than ready to “make bargains with hegem-
ony” (Rankin, 2010: 187). Miraftab, for example, documents how about half of the
families evicted in a project she studied accepted to be relocated to temporary tents. The
other half, “protecting their autonomy from political party manipulation, refused the
tents” and set up shacks on the sidewalk in protest of the eviction (Miraftab, 2009: 38).
While it could be said that people accepting the concession have been “manipulated,” the
example illustrates there is a tradeoff between representing communities and choosing
for more radical action. This tradeoff is especially vexatious when considerable costs and
risks are associated with radical action, as is usually the case. One thorny question for
this type of planning is whether it is legitimate to ask people to sacrifice and take risks in
the name of a greater cause (the struggle against neoliberalism or the fight for auton-
omy), especially considering that the insurgent planners advocating such action are
unlikely to face the same sort of consequences as the members of the marginalized com-
munities. The devotion of community engagement and social justice do not resolve the
“power of representation” dilemma: their superior control over certain types of legiti-
macy and expertise provides planners with the opportunity to contribute significantly to
struggles for social justice but when they use these resources, they could advocate a
course of action that goes against the interests and values of at least some segments of the
communities they engage with.
Conclusion
We reviewed different ways in which planners can pursue social justice. Our review is
not meant to be exhaustive but to bring out different ways in which planners handle what
we refer to as the power of representation dilemma. This dilemma, to repeat, arises
because planners’ credentials, knowledge, and skills potentially make them into power-
ful “agents of social justice” but at the same time their privileged position can place them
in a position of power in relation to the very communities they represent and serve. This
dilemma comprises at least two major issues. First, planners in pursuit of social justice
need to decide whether they espouse a substantive understanding of justice or not.
Second, planners need to decide whether they engage with, or even usurp themselves in,
marginalized communities or operate from a distance. On the one hand, our discussion
of various key contributions to the planning literature highlighted that planners with a
strong and substantive understanding of social justice enjoy the benefit of a clear politi-
cal mission but the tradeoff is that they will tend to sideline or silence those segments of
marginalized communities with different ideas, ideals, or priorities. Planners striving for
community engagement, on the other hand, may be more open to the multiplicity within
communities but run the risk of accepting or even accommodating inequalities within
communities and in societies at large. Since we emphasize that each of the positions has
tradeoffs, we cannot infer rules for how planners should act. However, we do want to
provide some pointers and statements in an attempt to stimulate debate.
First, it is clear that the discussion on what social justice is will not be fully resolved.
On the contrary, a proliferation of interest in social justice is bound to stimulate conten-
tion over what social justice is and who its rightful spokespeople are. However, in spite
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16 Planning Theory
of unavoidable disagreement over what social justice exactly is, usage of the term implies
an orientation to alternative futures and away from modes of planning that look for opti-
mal or efficient solutions without asking questions about the modes and conditions of
governing in which they emerge (cf. Brenner et al., 2011). Acknowledging social justice
as a key concept forces planners to be reflexive and pre-empts a technocratic understand-
ing of planning as the pursuit of efficient or optimal solutions.
Second, exactly because social justice is an intrinsically contested concept, there is a
need to debate what it is in general and particular contexts. This means avoiding two
extremes. On the one hand, planners do not have supreme knowledge of what social
justice entails. Planners may have credentials and skills to deal with issues of spatial
organization but this does not mean they possess the truth of what a just city should be.
When they claim to possess this truth, their power to define problems and suggest solu-
tions is only reinforced. The achievement of a truly just city can, in such instances, only
come at the expense of depriving marginalized people the opportunity to articulate their
own understandings of justice and to partake in bringing about their visions of the just
city. On the other hand, planners should not claim to merely represent communities they
serve and channel already existing grievances. The idea that the planner merely serves as
a tool in service of the struggles of marginalized communities may amount to a “strategy
of condescension” (in Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992: 145) in which planners simultane-
ously hide and exercise their power to shape and steer mobilizations. We argue that urban
planners cannot merely assist or advocate for groups but necessarily acknowledge some
rather than other voices. Although these extremes—imposing social justice top-down or
claiming it emerges organically from the bottom up—are in different directions, they
both run the risk of short-circuiting discussions of what social justice is and negating
reflexivity. Claiming truth and justice in the planning process or rejecting it leads to a
similar outcome: the enhanced power of the planner and the marginalization of already
marginalized people.
Third, for urban planners and academics operating within communities and move-
ments, it is essential to assess their own position. Creating equality within communities
requires recognition of inequalities and the sociological sources for those structured
inequalities. This should be a moment to analyze where privilege comes from, how a
community may depend on scarce privileges to advance their interests, and how the con-
centration of resources in the hands of a few results in hierarchies and inequalities.
Planners’ particular conceptions of the just city will bring them closer to some while
bringing them into conflict with others. By openly positioning themselves as partisans,
they can engage in debate over their visions. When planners are open about their own
power and partisanship, the communities and movements they work with can mitigate
in-built tendencies for them to become dominant actors.
Fourth, in recognizing that planners and urban scholars have privileged access to
scarce resources (knowledge, skills, credentials) that make them powerful, they should
also work to make these resources available to more marginalized forces. They must, in
other words, diffuse the resources of power away from themselves and toward marginal-
ized groups. The aim is not only to make more effective activists but to also shift the
power ratios between the planner-academic and marginalized communities. This is what
some planner-academics have called “turning resources out” (Nicholls, 2003). Soja’s
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Uitermark and Nicholls 17
discussion of the Department of Urban Planning provides a number of important illustra-
tions of how this was done. For instance, he shows how university resources were turned
out to marginalized communities through such programs as the “Community Scholars
Program.” The more community groups acquire critical knowledge and skills, the less
they depend on university intellectuals in their struggles for social justice.
In short, planning in the pursuit of justice is a tricky and challenging enterprise.
Embracing the concept of justice, no matter how it is defined, makes planners vulnerable
to charges that they pervert or betray their ideals. Such vulnerability, however, is the
inevitable byproduct of the pursuit for social justice. If planners were not vulnerable,
they would be infallible, unreflexive, and unaccountable. Embracing social justice thus
sets a high bar and may even give the impression that it is impossible to do the right
thing. But at the end of the day, we surmise it is more inspiring to aspire to a contested
ideal than to simply optimize whatever system we find ourselves in.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article.
Notes
1. In 1971, Foucault helped organize an anti-prison organization called the Prison Information
Group (GIP). The group was made up of a coalition of prisoners, professionals working in
the prison complexes, activists, and academics. In its first pamphlet, the GIP laid out its posi-
tion, “The GIP does not propose to speak in the name of the prisoners in various prisons: it
proposes, on the contrary, to provide them with the possibility of speaking for themselves and
telling what goes on in prisons” (in Eribon, 1991: 228).
2. Our intention has not been to be exhaustive. Indeed, we can add additional axes or strategies
to this typology. What is important is that no strategy is perfect and capable of overcoming
tradeoffs.
3. Soja’s view in this sense is close to Davidoffs. The concept of “advocacy planning” (Davidoff,
1965) may suggest that planners act as councilors to their clients but as Tsubohara (2012)
shows, Davidoff has a much stronger conception of the planner’s role as they should “do
more than explicating the values underlying his prescriptions for courses of action; he [sic]
should affirm them; he should be an advocate for what he deems proper” and “a proponent
of specific substantive solution” (Davidoff, 1965: 331–333, cited in Tsubohara, 2012: 53). As
Tsubohara points out, this makes the planners into arbiters of right and wrong as they decide
which communities to support and how to support them while insisting on their substantive
ideas of social justice.
4. As we noted above, the GIP stated its ambition was to let prisoners speak for themselves. But
clearly the GIP had ideas about what the prisoners should say as the group rejects “reformist
goals” and expects prisoners to say “what it is that is intolerable for them in the system of
penal repression” (in Eribon, 1991: 228; see also Nicholls and Uitermark, 2015).
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Author biographies
Justus Uitermark is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam and the
Gradus Hendriks Professor in Community Development at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His
research is in the areas of Urban Studies and Political Sociology. He has published widely in jour-
nals including the American Sociological Review, International Journal of Urban and Regional
Research, Political Geography, Progress in Human Geography, and Public Administration.
Walter Nicholls is Associate Professor of Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of California,
Irvine. His main area of research has been the role of cities in social movements. He has published
widely in journals including Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Theory and Society,
Theory, Culture and Society, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies,
Environment and Planning A, and European Urban and Regional Research. His study of the undoc-
umented youth movement in the United States was published as The DREAMers: How the
Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate (Stanford University
Press).
at Erasmus Univ Rotterdam on October 30, 2015plt.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Our work with the resident action group occasionally involved contributing to discussions about strategy, tactics, and goals but mostly it was more mundane. As Routledge and Derickson (2015 ) outline, academic researchers are well placed to resource potential and solidarity, to expand the capacities of activist groups, and to generate support from other individuals and organisations rather than to tell activists what they should aim for and how they can achieve it (see also Uitermark & Nicholls 2017 ;Taylor 2014 ). Among other eff orts, we helped manage social media pages, reached out for media attention or wrote pieces ourselves, compiled a handbook about the redevelopment, made submissions to government inquiries and consultations, printed posters and fl yers, set up tables and chairs, and so on. ...
... The balancing act of seeking particular outcomes through activism versus encouraging and ensuring collective, inclusive, and democratic decision-making can be exceedingly diffi cult. Uitermark and Nicholls (2017 ) argue that there are inherent tensions between these two orientations and often trade-off s: with the former, there is a risk that marginalised participants will be yet further excluded; with the latter, there is a risk that the privileged positions we hold as academic researchers are put to waste. In our involvement at Waterloo, we felt concerned that we researchers did not have enough 'skin in the game' to make demands for particular outcomes nor to adopt and implement democratic decision-making structures, and therefore, we did not successfully advocate particularly strongly for either. ...
... The capability approach requires a value to be assigned to what individuals can do (or capable of) as an alternative. Uitermark and Nicholls (2017) define the prerequisites of social justice: Recognition of marginalised communities as fully equal and capable of engaging as full citizens, understanding their true interests and strong leadership and vision of justice, in addition to the use of substantive knowledge to steer movements toward more just societies. That said, planners should become conscious that they must introduce innovative practices and struggle to change the existing rules and regulations that restrict their challenges. ...
... What I think though is being cognizant that there are only imperfect strategies, we must search for the realpolitik of planning. This position can be justified since today the cities planners face a "power representation dilemma, due to the credentials, knowledge, and skills of intellectuals (like urban planners) make them into powerful agents of social justice, but at the same time can put them in a position of power concerning the very communities they represent and serve (Uitermark and Nicholls, 2017). Alternatively, the power they gain due to their position is significantly restricted because of the dominance of market-oriented policies imposed by the neoliberal agenda. ...
... Zwrócił on uwagę na deficyt sprawiedliwości społecznej w przestrzeni miasta, podkreślając wyzwania związane z jej jednoznacznym definiowaniem. Dyskusja ta obierała bardzo różne kierunki teoretyczne, polityczne i normatywne (Davoudi, Brooks 2014;Israel, Frenkel 2017;Uitermark, Nicholls 2017;Weck i in. 2021). ...
Chapter
Powszechna heterogeniczność zasobów występujących w przestrzeni ekonomicznej, które w różnym stopniu oddziałują i są wykorzystywane w procesie wzrostu i rozwoju gospodarczego, prowadzi do geograficznego zróżnicowania rozwoju społeczno-gospodarczego, skutkując nierównościami w poziomie i warunkach życia ludności. Nierówności te stanowią konsekwencję kształtowania się w poszczególnych terytoriach odmiennych układów czynników rozwoju, które z różną siłą występują, oddziałują oraz mogą być tworzone i wzmacniane w przestrzeni ekonomicznej. Przyjmując hipotezę rozwoju nierównomiernego, zakładającą istnienie w gospodarce nierównowagi jako siły sprawczej rozwoju, przestrzenne zróżnicowania rozwoju oraz wynikające z nich nierówności postrzega się jako nieunikniony fenomen wynikający z naturalnych cech tego procesu, co znajduje swoje potwierdzenie w założeniach m.in teorii polaryzacji, w tym koncepcji biegunów wzrostu, oraz koncepcji rdzeni i peryferii (Gorzelak 1989;, Churski i in. 2017, Churski i in. 2018). Słuszność przedmiotowych założeń potwierdzają prawidłowości otaczającej nas rzeczywistości społeczno-ekonomicznej, stanowiąc podstawę wyjaśniania istoty funkcjonowania współczesnej gospodarki kapitalistycznej. Z jednej strony geograficzne nierówności rozwoju postrzegane są jako podstawa trwania kapitalizmu (Harvey 2016), a ich występowanie interpretuje się jako naturalną prawidłowość, a nie zaburzenie funkcjonowania systemu społeczno-gospodarczego (Amin 2004). Z drugiej jednak strony wobec nieskuteczności polityki rozwoju (White Paper…, 2017; Churski i in. 2020,; Churski i in. 2021), utrzymujące się, a nawet narastające zwłaszcza na poziomie subregionalnym i lokalnym, nierówności poziomu rozwoju gospodarczego coraz częściej utożsamiane są z niesprawiedliwością, która nie jest akceptowana społecznie (Perdał i in. 2020). Zaznaczająca się przestrzenna polaryzacja rozwoju społeczno-gospodarczego w coraz mniejszym stopniu dotyczy klasycznego układu zróżnicowań rozwojowych utożsamianego z dychotomią przestrzeni miejskiej i przestrzeni wiejskiej (Stanny i in. 2016). W obecnych realiach relacyjnej gospodarki przepływów zróżnicowania te kształtują się w warunkach rozwoju obszarów funkcjonalnych i w większym stopniu odpowiadają dychotomii przestrzeni obszarów aglomeracyjnych oraz obszarów poza aglomeracyjnych (Domański 2021). Należy podkreślić, że nieunikniona polaryzacja rozwoju w miastach i w bliższych oraz dalszych obszarach je otaczających nie musi oznaczać marginalizacji i peryferyzacji obszarów leżących poza bezpośrednim oddziaływaniem biegunów rozwoju (Churski 2019). Nie musi zatem prowadzić do naruszania sprawiedliwości terytorialnej, której potrzebę zapewnienia we współczesnych procesach rozwojowych podkreśla się w literaturze przedmiotu (Soja 2010a). Wymaga to jednak ukierunkowanego oddziaływania na czynniki rozwoju w sposób umożliwiający z jednej strony na zwiększanie zasięgu przestrzennego pozytywnych oddziaływań obszarów rdzeniowych, a z drugiej strony na wzmacnianie zasobów endogenicznych obszarów peryferyjnych, w tym kształtowanie przez nie możliwości przyjmowania i wykorzystania tych oddziaływań w procesie ich rozwoju. Nie jest to łatwe w warunkach narastającego oddziaływania megatrendów przemian społeczno-gospodarczych, które zmieniają dotychczasowe rozumienie i zakres oddziaływania czynników rozwoju prowadząc do ich swoistej redefinicji (Konecka-Szydłowska i in. 2019). Wymusza to zmianę dotychczasowego paradygmatu polityki spójności i skutkuje upowszechnianiem w jej praktyce podejścia zorientowanego terytorialnie (place-based policy) (Barca 2009), którego jednak skuteczna i efektywna operacjonalizacja pozostaje cały czas dużym wyzwaniem (Churski i in. 2020,; Churski i in. 2021), zwłaszcza w dążeniu do sprawiedliwości terytorialnej (Sabine i in. 2021). Celem niniejszego rozdziału jest określenie roli miast w procesie dążenia do sprawiedliwości terytorialnej w kontekście kształtowania się prawidłowości przestrzennych polaryzacji i dyfuzji rozwoju oraz ich wykorzystania w praktyce polityki spójności programowanej i realizowanej w podejściu zorientowanym terytorialnie (place-based policy). Punktem wyjścia jest syntetyczna systematyzacja ustaleń definicyjnych dotyczących pojęcia sprawiedliwości oraz sprawiedliwości społecznej. Na tej podstawie przedstawia się koncepcję sprawiedliwości terytorialnej, zwracając uwagę na jej podstawowe założenia oraz znaczenie w interpretacji przestrzennych zróżnicowań procesów rozwojowych. Następnie określa się rolę miast w procesach polaryzacji i dyfuzji rozwoju w przestrzeni ekonomicznej, wskazując na ich znaczenie w dążeniu do zapewnienia sprawiedliwości terytorialnej. W końcu, uwzględniając rolę miast w procesach rozwojowych, przedstawia się możliwość wykorzystania koncepcji sprawiedliwości terytorialnej w programowaniu i realizacji działań interwencyjnych polityki spójności zgodnej z paradygmatem zorientowanym terytorialnie (place-based policy), co stanowi podstawę dla sformułowanych najważniejszych wniosków i rekomendacji.
... Zwrócił on uwagę na deficyt sprawiedliwości społecznej w przestrzeni miasta, podkreślając wyzwania związane z jej jednoznacznym definiowaniem. Dyskusja ta obierała bardzo różne kierunki teoretyczne, polityczne i normatywne (Davoudi, Brooks 2014;Israel, Frenkel 2017;Uitermark, Nicholls 2017;Weck i in. 2021). ...
Book
Celem monografii jest próba dostosowania koncepcji prawa do miasta do aktualnych wyzwań miast polskich. Zrealizowano to w zakresie obejmującym zróżnicowane dyscypliny i punkty widzenia. Tadeusz Markowski i Maciej J. Nowak charakteryzują historyczne i ekonomiczne bariery systemu planowania przestrzennego wpływające na podejście do „prawa do miasta”. Wyodrębniają mechanizmy pozwalające rozwijać związane ze wskazaną koncepcją cele. Tekst drugi autorstwa Huberta Izdebskiego w sposób pogłębiony charakteryzuje szeroki kontekst prawny prawa do miasta. Z kolei Marek S. Szczepański i Anna Śliz zajmują się kontekstem socjologicznym prawa do miasta, wyodrębniając w tym zakresie istotne płaszczyzny i przykłady. Przemysław Śleszyński przedstawia kluczowe kierunki badań powiązane z prawem do miasta z perspektywy geograficznej, przywiązując dużą wagę do nierówności terytorialnych i społeczno-przestrzennych. Tekst autorstwa Krzysztofa Simona i Roberta Simona, przygotowany z perspektywy medycznej, jest refleksją o wyzwaniach stojących przed polskimi miastami w obliczu pandemii. W większości tekstów ich autorzy proponują własne podejścia do prawa do miasta i wskazują kierunki wymagające dalszej pogłębionej refleksji. Kolejna część monografii obejmuje analizę zróżnicowanych aspektów powiązanych z polityką miejską. Tomasz Kaczmarek odnosi się do prawa do miasta z perspektywy metropolitalnej, Rafał Matyja zaś ‒ z perspektywy prowincji. W kolejnym tekście Paweł Churski analizuje sprawiedliwość społeczną w ujęciu terytorialnym i jej przełożenie na problematykę miejską. Ciekawy, relatywnie rzadziej zauważany transportowy wymiar prawa do miasta przedstawił Tomasz Komornicki. Maciej Cesarski natomiast analizuje problematykę powiązaną z prawem do miasta z perspektywy mieszkalnictwa
... Important for this research was to find a way to prevent representing a homogenous image of this enormously diverse group. Assigning a norm of a homogenous public group often results in oppressive research tendencies and diminishes minorities' representation and ignores unique social and religious values (Uitermark & Nicholls, 2015). On the other hand, addressing women as a homogenous group deletes an enormous part of qualitative data related to women's social, cultural, and religious affiliations (Miraftab, 2004). ...
Thesis
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One’s gender, ethnic, and racial identification in urban life affect their social experiences, and as an example, their transportation choices. Investigating social factors (including gender identification) influencing Muslim women’s walking behavior is the core question of this dissertation. During the last two decades, the walkability discourse changed its emphasis from 5Ds (e.g., density, design, diversity, distance to transit, and destination accessibility) and their significance in promoting walking behavior to the interconnectedness of walkability and social equity. The level of accessibility to urban resources was depicted as one of the key drivers for social equity in urban areas. The essential point is that walkability discourse has predominantly focused on macroscale studies that utilize federal and national data. This exaggerated emphasis on macro-scale data has diminished researchers’ ability to understand qualitative data and fine factors that impact one’s decision to walk or not walk in urban neighborhoods. Although there are studies focusing on social and cultural factors affecting walking behavior in the last ten years, there is an enormous lack of micro-scale studies, that are significant specifically in case studies targeting hard-to-reach population (e.g., Muslim community). Micro-scale studies reveal social inequalities and health disparities in urban areas, and deciphers individuals’ desires, needs, and concerns related to their multimodal transportation choices. Conducting micro-scale studies is even more critical for traditional communities with specific religious or cultural values, which limits their social life and diminish their access to urban opportunities. This dissertation focuses on socio ecological model of walking behavior and applies the model to Muslim women’s walking behavior in the Detroit Metro Area. For this dissertation, I draw first on a two year and half participant observation in public spaces, religious ceremonies, and personal interactions with Muslim women in observed cities in the Detroit Metro area. After a long pre-recruitment process, I came up with criteria to identify gatekeepers to access the community to ease recruitment of Muslim women for semi-structured interviews. The second phase of this study consisted of 78 semi-structured interviews with Muslim women in the Detroit Metro Area. Each interview took between 35 and 120 minutes. Study participants were Muslim women in the age range of 18-55 residing in the Detroit Metro Area. The preliminary findings of the study revealed that different forms of microaggression played a significant role in discouraging Muslim women from walking in their own neighborhoods. Two following factors were also considerably mentioned by study participants: 1) the percentage of Muslims living in every observed urban neighborhood (representing the level of residential segregation) and 2) their feeling of being discriminated against in their own urban neighborhood.
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This study is generated by the limited understanding of the actor's power on village-level deliberation. In community-level deliberation, especially for villagers, planning struggles with unbalanced power from involved actors to avoid potential failures due to inappropriate implementation and waste of state finances. Problems from policy formulation results have distorted the consensus. Community-based planning faces different power characteristics displayed by involved actors. However, it seems that this matter's understanding is mostly obtained in Western urban areas context and few have studied it in the rural context, even more, sourced from non-Western and global south practices. Questions arise on the power capabilities each actor has and its implications for the planning formulation results. This article aims to provide an understanding of the actor's position and their source of power. It investigates the power identities of involved actors on the community-level deliberation through a power cube approach. Community-level deliberation in Pematang Tengah village, Indonesian, is used as the case study. Primary data were obtained from interviews with twenty-one respondents, observation, and document analysis during 2018-2020. The result shows that each actor displays a specific power characteristic driving their influences on the planning formulation results. This condition has implications for the construction of the power holder's influence in dominating the deliberation process.
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Why are cities acting against inequality? We attribute the growth of municipal economic policy to multi-city urban policy entrepreneurship networks. These networks combine activists who create pressure to address inequality with policy experts who supply the legislative means to do so. We illustrate the concept through the Fight for $15 campaign in Seattle and Chicago. Drawing on more than 100 interviews, participant observation and secondary documents, we show that advocates for municipal policy reform use national policy entrepreneurship networks to develop policy-specific and generalized policy advocacy techniques. Centering urban policy entrepreneurship brings into focus three important aspects of current municipal public policy: 1) The two-way interaction between national and local policy campaigns. 2) Partnerships between activists who set the political agenda and policy entrepreneurs who act on political opportunity. 3) The role of national advocacy and policy entrepreneurship networks in converting new policy ideas into routine, off-the-shelf policy solutions.
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Cities and public spaces should be regarded as the most valuable achievements of mankind in recent centuries. Nowadays, in some cases, we see a decline in quality of the public sphere, which diminishes the liberty and the voluntary presence of people, who feel no desire to visit certain public spaces. In this paper, we critically review existing knowledge and attitudes applied within the broadly defined field of democratic public spaces and develop a new, more comprehensive framework that better reflects contemporary social challenges in the city of Tehran, Iran. We systemized and unified a broad range of urban democracy-based concepts in an integrated model, i.e., the right to the city, social justice, civil society and citizen's rights, inclusive design and cities friendly for women, children, the elderly, the disabled, tourists, and minority groups within the city. Data collection was conducted based on the crowdsourcing method through analysis of social networking applications, i.e., Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare as well as in-depth and semi-structured interviews with experts and the public. As a result, we systematically distinguish five key terms for assessing democratic public spaces, i.e., socio-spatial diversity, social justice, social inclusion, comfort, and public participation. This conceptual framework can be used as a guideline for policy makers and urban designers to create and evaluate public spaces to achieve the most democratic spaces. Our framework was applied to Tehran's 30Tir street. Abstract. Kota dan ruang publik harus dianggap sebagai pencapaian manusia paling bernilai dalam beberapa abad terakhir. Saat ini, dalam beberapa kasus, kita melihat penurunan kualitas ruang publik, yang mengurangi kebebasan dan kehadiran sukarela orang-orang yang tidak memiliki keinginan untuk mengunjungi ruang publik tertentu. Dalam makalah ini, kami secara kritis meninjau pengetahuan dan sikap yang ada yang diterapkan dalam bidang ruang publik demokratis yang didefinisikan secara luas dan mengembangkan kerangka kerja baru yang lebih komprehensif yang lebih mencerminkan tantangan sosial kontemporer di kota Teheran, Iran. Kami merumuskan dan menyatukan berbagai konsep berbasis demokrasi perkotaan dalam model yang terintegrasi, yaitu, hak atas kota, keadilan sosial, masyarakat sipil dan hak warga negara, desain inklusif dan kota yang ramah bagi perempuan, anak-anak, orang tua, orang cacat, turis, dan kelompok minoritas di dalam kota. Pengumpulan data dilakukan berdasarkan metode crowdsourcing melalui analisis aplikasi jejaring sosial yaitu Twitter, Instagram, dan Foursquare serta wawancara mendalam dan semi terstruktur dengan pakar dan masyarakat umum. Dengan hal ini, kami dapat membedakan secara sistematis lima istilah kunci untuk menilai ruang publik yang demokratis, yaitu keragaman sosio-spasial, keadilan sosial, inklusi sosial, kenyamanan, dan 25 partisipasi publik. Kerangka konseptual ini dapat digunakan sebagai pedoman bagi pembuat kebijakan dan perancang kota untuk menciptakan dan mengevaluasi ruang publik untuk mencapai ruang yang paling demokratis. Kerangka kerja kami diterapkan ke jalan 30Tir Teheran.
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Cities and public spaces should be regarded as the most valuable achievements of mankind in recent centuries. Nowadays, in some cases, we see a decline in quality of the public sphere, which diminishes the liberty and the voluntary presence of people, who feel no desire to visit certain public spaces. In this paper, we critically review existing knowledge and attitudes applied within the broadly defined field of democratic public spaces and develop a new, more comprehensive framework that better reflects contemporary social challenges in the city of Tehran, Iran. We systemized and unified a broad range of urban democracy-based concepts in an integrated model, i.e., the right to the city, social justice, civil society and citizen’s rights, inclusive design and cities friendly for women, children, the elderly, the disabled, tourists, and minority groups within the city. Data collection was conducted based on the crowdsourcing method through analysis of social networking applications, i.e., Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare as well as in-depth and semi-structured interviews with experts and the public. As a result, we systematically distinguish five key terms for assessing democratic public spaces, i.e., socio-spatial diversity, social justice, social inclusion, comfort, and public participation. This conceptual framework can be used as a guideline for policy makers and urban designers to create and evaluate public spaces to achieve the most democratic spaces. Our framework was applied to Tehran’s 30Tir street.
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This article revisits the notion of radical planning from the standpoint of the global South. Emerging struggles for citizenship in the global South, seasoned by the complexities of state—citizen relations within colonial and post-colonial regimes, offer an historicized view indispensable to counter-hegemonic planning practices. The article articulates the notion of insurgent planning as radical planning practices that respond to neoliberal specifics of dominance through inclusion — that is, inclusive governance. It characterizes the guiding principles for insurgent planning practices as counter-hegemonic, transgressive and imaginative. The article contributes to two current conversations within planning scholarship: on the implication of grassroots insurgent citizenship for planning, and on (de)colonization of planning theory.
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This book examines critically the ideas and performance of Paulo Freire as secretary of education in Brazil in the early 1990s, during the socialist democratic administration of the Workers Party in So Paulo. With an emphasis on theory, the authors discuss the relationships between the state and social movements as well as the relationships between teachers and curriculum reform. In so doing, they thoroughly examine the intersection of politics and education in educational reform in one of the major urban centers of Latin America. This book examines critically the ideas and performance of Paulo Freire as secretary of education in Brazil in the early 1990s, during the socialist democratic administration of the Workers Party in So Paulo. With an emphasis on theory, the authors discuss the relationships between the state and social movements as well as the relationships between teachers and curriculum reform. In so doing, they thoroughly examine the intersection of politics and education in educational reform in one of the major urban centers of Latin America.A central focus of the book is the project of interdisciplinarity in teachers trainingan essential principle of the Freirean proposal. By concentrating on classrooms, schools, and teachers and by use of a detailed empirical analysis, this book constitutes an assessment of an original, far-reaching, and radical process of educational reform. The foundations and methodologies of the So Paulo experience can be implemented in different international contexts. The authors show how students and teachers were engaged in the process of curriculum and governance reform and what kind of political awareness emerged in schools and communities experiencing radical educational reform.
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The term 'the just city' refers to a body of work that develops a theory of urban justice and derives criteria from it to apply to urban policy. Until recently, critical urban studies identified injustices within the urban realm but, with the exception of the work by David Harvey and Henri Lefebvre, did not explicitly create a normative theory to depict what constitutes justice. Many of the studies with an urban political economy perspective focused on property development and urban social movements, primarily within wealthy Western countries; the criteria on which they based their critique of urban governance and flows of capital remained implicit. In the 1990s and thereafter, urban scholars began to address the topic of justice explicitly. Particularly influential was Iris Marion Young's book, Justice and the Politics of Difference, which defines justice as the absence of forms of domination and which moves beyond Marxist-inspired political economy to identify nonmaterial forms of injustice arising from the marginalization of groups. Building on her argument, many scholars named diversity as a chief component of justice. One important strand of thought, based on the writings of Jürgen Habermas, emphasized communicative rationality. Susan S. Fainstein, in her book The Just City considers that there are three major components of urban justice: democracy, diversity, and equity, with priority to be given to the latter.
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A vital but often neglected part of the urban restructuring of Los Angeles has been a resurgent activism that has created some of the most innovative urban social movements in the country. The Justice Riots of 1992, as they are now called, stimulated vigorous grassroots and place-based coalitions of labor unions and community-based organizations seeking to deal with the enormous inequalities and injustices brought about by globalization and the formation of the New Economy. Affected to some degree by the critical spatial perspective espoused by the Los Angeles research cluster, these new coalitions were among the earliest in the United States to adopt specifically spatial strategies, and in these cases, thinking spatially about justice made a difference. This spatial turn in the justice movement is traced through three organizations: the Bus Riders Union and its initiating sponsor, the Labor/Community Strategy Center; the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE); and, most recently, the Right to the City Alliance.