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 http://www.aesop-planning.eu/blogs/en_GB/planning-conflict
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
- 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.