Citizen participation in such complex issues as the quality of the environment, neighbourhood housing, urban design, and economic development often brings with it suspicion of government, anger between stakeholders, and power plays by many, as well as appeals to rational argument. Deliberative planning practice in these contexts takes political vision and pragmatic skill. Working from the accounts of practitioners in urban and rural settings, North and South, the author of this book shows how skilful deliberative practices can facilitate practical and timely participatory planning processes. In so doing, he provides a window onto the wider world of democratic governance, participation, and practical decision-making. Integrating interpretation and theoretical insight with diverse accounts of practice, he draws on political science, law, philosophy, literature, and planning to explore the challenges and possibilities of deliberative practice. He examines the challenges facing the public planners and professional mediators charged with making these participatory planning and decision-making processes work. Using brief vignettes from actual planning cases to introduce his analyses, he highlights the ethical and practical problems of defining stakeholders, ensuring adequate representation and informed deliberation, and addressing power imbalances. The author argues that public planners and mediators should promote not only technically well-informed deliberation but also joint exploration, critique, and redefinition of participants' goals and self-understanding. This book is a contribution to the ongoing debate about the appropriate uses and limits of participatory planning and decision-making processes. The main goal of the book is to highlight the problems of current practice and suggest general norms of participation and deliberation that practitioners should uphold.
The MIT Press