The initiative of establishing the AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group follows up on an international conference held in Berlin on October 27-28, 2011, titled: Planning/Conflict – Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Developments (concept/organization: Enrico Gualini and the Chair of Planning Theory

of TU Berlin). link to conference website ; link to conference poster

The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group was officially launched at the AESOP Congress in Ankara
in July 2012. After its founding in 2013, the thematic group has held two international academic events:
the conference ‘Planning/Conflict: Cities and Citizenships in Times of Crisis’ held in Lisbon on October 9-11,
and the conference ‘Conflicts in the City: Reflections on Urban Unrest’ held in Valencia on April 2-4, 2014.
A further international conference focusing on conflict and urban governance is planned for Spring/Summer
The conferences of the thematic group have resulted so far in three international publications (Gualini
2015; Gualini, Morais Mourato and Allegra 2015; Romero Renau 2015).
link to conference websitelink to Ankara presentation

  Moving beyond conflict in planning:
  Towards a critical consensus politics?

   Published at: 05 April 2016

   international symposium
   RMIT University, Barcelona Campus, Spain
   16-17 June 2016

   Critical Urban Governance Program, RMIT University, Australia
   AESOP Planning/Conflict Thematic Group
   program and information:
   schedule and visitor information:

  Call for papers

   Published at: 20 December 2015 

   Symposium Title: ‘Moving beyond conflict in planning;
   towards a critical consensus politics?’

   Where: RMIT University, Barcelona Campus, Spain
   When: 16th & 17th June 2016
   Hosts: Critical Urban Governance Program, RMIT University, Australia & AESOP Planning/Conflict
   Thematic Group

   Abstracts (300 words): Due January 30th
   Short papers (3,000 words): Due May 30th

   Planning decisions are often the artefact of locally situated political struggles to attract, resist or prepare
   for the impact of change (Gualini et al, 2015; Gualini, 2015). These decision processes shape the physical
   city, but can unsettle normative framings of citizenship and belonging, values and ethics, and also expose
   a democratic paradox of planning praxis. Dominant economic growth imperatives and urban austerity
   strategies combined with global challenges related to climate change and urbanisation serve to intensify
   the political in planning. Yet, there is a concern that city planning has transitioned into what has been
   described as a postpolitical urban condition tempering episodes of conflict and undermining critical
   discourse (Metzger et al, 2015; Legacy, 2015; Blühdorn, 2013; Bylund, 2012; Oosterlynck
   and Swyngedouw, 2010).

   Critics argue that by managing conflict out of planning and prioritising consensus-generating processes,
   the political is suppressed preventing citizens from questioning and challenging planning orthodoxy.
   The processes that do remain may offer opportunities for limited citizen engagement however still
   placing considerable demands on citizens as political subjects (Inch, 2014).  Conflict that does mount
   is displaced elsewhere positioning conflict and consensus into a dichotomous relationship (Bylund, 2012;
   Purcell, 2013). This binary, while useful as an analytical tool, is highly problematic and overly simplistic
   as a normative framing, removing the conflict/consensus nexus from nuanced analysis and critical
   engagement (Bond, 2010).

   This symposium, co-hosted by the AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group and the Critical Urban
   Governance program at the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Melbourne, will bring together
   early, mid and late career planning academics to interrogate, reimagine and critically engage with the
   idea that planning is political. It will do so by exploring the potential for ‘everyday politics’ as well as
   ‘extraordinary politics’ to expose and challenge the conception that ‘consensus’ and ‘conflict’ form a
   dichotomous relationship. The aim of the symposium will be to develop a more nuanced understanding
   of how planning processes interact with moments of conflict and consensus and the spaces ‘in between’.
   In particular, the symposium will invite papers that offer responses to the following questions:

   - How can planning/urban theory relate a more nuanced analytical understanding of conflict dynamics in
     planning processes?
   - In what ways can we move beyond treating 'consensus' or 'conflict' as transcendent ideals and instead
     work towards engendering a more immanent evaluation of always situated conflict dynamics?
   - What pathways of transformation may emerge from the dialectics of conflict/consensus in terms of
     either innovative social practices or new policing and disciplining orders?
   - How are ideas about conflict/consensus (e.g. from agonistic political theory for instance) transforming
     planning practice? (Are we seeing a move from the "engineering of consent" towards the choreography
     of carefully curated conflict? Or is that too cynical an approach?
   - Which contemporary theoretical contributions / strands of theoretical research can inform and support
     further research on this line of inquiry?
   - Which possible shifts in research questions does this imply and what kind of research programs can
     be developed in order to pursue them?

   The symposium will invite papers that respond to questions that engage critically with the conflict/
   consensus nexus and interrogate how this incites new and different ways of thinking about planning
   as a contested domain across space and time.

   *All papers will be circulated to participants before the symposium*. We are currently in the early
   stages of approaching an international journal to publish the body of papers as a special issue. For more
   information about the call for papers and the symposium please contact Dr. Crystal Legacy by email


   Blühdorn, I. (2013). The governance of unsustainability: ecology and democracy after the post-
   democratic turn. Environmental Politics, 22(1), 16-36.

   Bond, S. (2010). Negotiating a 'democratic ethos': moving beyond the agonistic-communicative
   divide. Planning Theory, 1-26.

   Bylund, J. (2012). Postpolitical correctness? Planning Theory 11(3), 319–327.

   Gualini, E., Mourato, JM., Allegra, M. (2015). ‘Conflict in the City: Contested Urban Spaces and
   Local Democracy’, Berlin: Jovis.

   Gualini, E. (2015). ‘Planning and Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Contentious Urban Developments’.
   New York: Routledge.

   Inch, A. (2014). Ordinary citizens and the political cultures of planning: In search of the subject of
   a new democratic ethos, Planning Theory, 1-21.

   Legacy, C. (2015). Transforming transport planning in the postpolitical era, Urban Studies, 1-17.

   Metzger, J., Allmendinger, P., & Oosterlynck, S. (Eds.). (2015). ‘Planning Against the Political:
   Democratic deficits in European territorial governance’. New York: Routledge

   Oosterlynck, S., & Swyngedouw, E. (2010). Noise reduction: the postpolitical quandary of night
   flights at Brussels airport. Environment and Planning A, 42 (1577-1594).

   Purcell, M. (2013). ‘The down-deep delight of democracy’. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.

  New Publication

    Published at: 12 October 2015

   Conflict in the City:
   Contested Urban Spaces and Local Democracy

   Conflicts around urban development and planning issues
   represent an important dimension of urban politics. Issues
   of social cohesion and democratic representation are all the
   more relevant in times when cities are undergoing a severe
   economic crisis and when local politics tends to meet its
   challenges with “post-political” responses. The relevance of
   local conflicts as moments of political mobilization is particularly
   apparent as institutions and procedures of urban politics fall
   short of meeting the expectations of local communities. The
   case-studies from cities throughout the world explore the
   potential of planning conflicts to raise questions about urban
   democracy. They point at some of its key challenges: the
   multi-scalar nature of urban policies; the tension between
   “policing” and “politics”, between institutional control and
   popular resistance; the spatial dimension of protest and
   social mobilization; the limits to institutional practices of
   citizen participation and conflict resolution; the struggle for
   new democratic exercises and forms of citizenship. The
   volume is a contribution to rethinking conflicts in urban
   development and planning in a multidisciplinary perspective,
   raising questions about the role of planning theory and practice
   in turning conflict into a transformative resource for local policy.                   

   available at:    


  Call for papers

   Published at: 7 April 2015 

   RC 21 Conference 2015

   ‘The Ideal City: between myth and reality -
   Representations, policies, contradictions and challenges for tomorrow's urban life’

   Urbino (Italy) 27-29 August 2015

  New Publication

   Published at: 9 March 2015

   Planning Conflict: Critical Perspectives on
   Contentious Urban Developments

   Planning and Condlict discusses the reasons for conflicts around
   urban developments and analyzes their shape in contemporary
   cities. It offers an interdisciplinary framework for scholars to
   engage with the issue of planning conflicts, focusing on both    
   empirical and theoretical inquiry.                
   By reviewing different perspectives for planners to engage with
   conflicts, and not simply mediate or avoid them, Planning and
   Conflict provides a theoretically informed look forward to the
   future of engaged, responsive city development that involves
   all its stakeholders. 

  Call for papers

    Published at: 19 November 2013

   International Conference

   Conflicts in the City: Reflections on Urban Unrest
   Valencia (Spain), 2-4 April 2014

  Call for papers

    Published at: 21 April 2013

   International Conference

   Planning/Conflict - Cities and Citizenship in Times of Crisis
   Lisbon, 9-11 October 2013

  Call for papers

    Published at: 6 January 2013

   RC 21 Conference Berlin, 29-31 August 2013

   Session 27: Contentious movements, conflict and agonistic pluralism in urban
   development transformative trajectories and potentials

   Session organizer: Enrico Gualini, TU Berlin – Berlin University of Technology

Forum 1: Activities

Published at: 23 November 2015

Please comment by logging-in into the AESOP website.

Forum 2: Themes

Published at: 23 November 2015

Please comment by logging-in into the AESOP website.

The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group aims at bringing together different perspectives on conflicts around urban planned developments, with a focus on the role planning practices may play both in defining/framing and in possibly solving/reframing conflicts. The purpose of the Planning/Conflict thematic group is to offer a durable framework for scholarly exchange, focussing on the empirical analysis of planning conflicts and promoting their critical/interpretive inquiry, in order to highlight what planning conflicts can teach us:

  • about changing features of urban development policies and trends and their impact on local societies and communities;
  • about changing conditions under which urban planning practices take place;
  • about the effectiveness and legitimacy of established planning practices in dealing with conflicts;
  • about the transformative potential that might be brought to light by facing planning conflicts;
  • about the potential productive and innovative contribution of agonistic practices in view of a democratization of planning.

The AESOP Planning/Conflict thematic group is open to participants’ proposals for joint initiatives: Please do not hesitate to advance proposals!

Would you like to contribute and/or to keep informed?

Coordinated by: Enrico Gualini