chapter  6
26 Pages

Bringing Power to Planning Research: One Researcher's Story

The Inevitable Question of Power Friedmann (1998: 249), in a recent stocktaking paper on planning research, identifies what he calls "perhaps the biggest problem" in theorizing and understanding planning. This problem, according to Friedmann, is "our ambivalence about power". Friedmann rightly argues that this ambivalence exists in all major schools of planning thought from the rational planning paradigm to the knowledge/action theory of planning to the communicative paradigm. Friedmann says, furthermore, that one of the things he would do differently today in thinking about planning is introducing "the inevitable question of power" (p. 250). Friedmann closes his paper by encouraging planning researchers to ponder the question of power with a point of departure in what is actually happening in city politics and planning, as opposed to what we normatively would like to see happen, the latter being the classic, and problematic approach of planning research (pp. 252-253):

I would like to urge those of us who are committed to the further development of planning theory to build relations of power-and especially enabling powerinto our conceptual framework. This will be done more readily once we ground our theorizing in the actual politics of city-building.