The communicative turn in planning theory and its implications for spatial strategy formations
There is an increasing contemporary interest, particularly in Europe, in the spatial organization of urban regions and in spatial strategy. But there is a general loss of confidence in political systems as mechanisms for conflict mediation and the strategic management of collective affairs. This raises questions about how stakeholders in spatial change in urban regions get to understand the complex dynamics of urban regions, how they get to agree on strategies and actions, and how this may be translated into influence on events. In this paper I explore the potential of the new ideas about public argumentation and communicative policy practice developing in the field of planning theory for addressing the task of strategic spatial strategy-making. I first outline the ideas, and then develop them into an approach focused around questions about the forums and arenas where spatial strategy-making takes place, and who gets access to them; the style of discussion, the way issues are identified and filtered; how new policy discourses emerge, and how agreements are reached and monitored. Throughout, I emphasise the locally contingent ways in which policy processes are invented by political communities in relation to their particular economic, social, environmental, and political circumstances.
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