ABSTRACT

Our society is facing major developments and challenges: the growing complexity (rise of new technologies, changes in production processes, crisis of representative democracy, diversity, globalization of culture and the economy), increasing concern about the rapid and uneven course of development, the problems of fragmentation, the ageing of the population in some parts of the world and youngsters and woman entering the labour market in other parts, the growing concern and awareness (at all scales, from local to global) about environmental issues, the longstanding quest for better coordination (both horizontal and vertical), the re-emphasis on the need for long-term thinking and the aim to return to a more realistic and effective method. Cases all over the world (but predominantly in the Global North) tell us that traditional planning tools are often insufficient to tackle these problems and challenges and are even unfit to govern processes of urban/regional transformation. A lot of traditional planning is about maintaining the existing social order rather than challenging and transforming it, and it fails to capture the dynamics and tensions of relations coexisting in particular places (see Albrechts and Balducci, 2013). It becomes less focused on the visionary and imagining the ‘impossible’ and more concerned with pragmatic negotiations around the ‘immediate’ in a context of the seeming inevitability of market-based forms of political rationality (see Haughton et al., 2013: 232). Its rhetorical commitment to inclusivity limits perceptions of diversity and causes deliberate exclusions (see Watson, 2007). In a phase of deep and rapid change, traditional planning instruments seem to be ineffective because they are designed for situations of stability (Schön, 1971), certainty and a reasonable clarity on the problems to be addressed (Christensen, 1985; Forester, 1993). All these traits are lacking in contemporary cities, urban regions and regions. In many places, public authorities looked for new interpretations, new descriptions, which could give a sense of what could be appropriate and necessary, to contrast the negative effects of change and to devise positive actions. There is a growing need to give a synthetic view of the process of change (Part 1 of the book) and frame future directions of development: a sense-making activity that is critical (the subject of Part 2) in order to frame the actions of citizens and governments with a role in the decisions about urban and territorial transformations (the search for new ideas in Parts 2 and 3). But, often, this cannot be translated into a ‘plan’ in the traditional sense. This may imply the abandonment of bureaucratic approaches and

the involvement of skills and resources that are external to the traditional administrative apparatus.