2015 Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July

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  • PublicationOpen Access
    Book of proceedings : Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, 29th Annual AESOP 2015 Congress July 13–16, 2015 | Prague, Czech Republic
    (AESOP, 2015) Macoun, Milan; Maier, Karel
    Dear members and friends of the AESOP community, Welcome in Prague for the 2015 annual AESOP Congress! In these challenging and troubled times, the unpredictable and contested nature of our shared spaces forces us to develop innovative planning research, in the light of intellectual freedom, democratic enhancement of differences, cooperation, ethics and justice. This requires a deep sense of responsibility, individually as well as collectively, considering our ethical sensitivity, civic engagement and research commitment as parts of a wider social practice. This issue – and the consequential dialectical tension – is at the core of the AESOP Prague Congress; in fact, the gap between sprawled powers and blurred sense of responsibility is the focus of the 2015 Congress debates. According to its intriguing title “Definite space – fuzzy responsibility”, the Prague Congress asks us: who should take responsibility for how cities and regions are being changed? Our community will face this difficult question, with hundreds of papers and presences in Prague. This is a great occasion in order to consider whether anything systematic can be said about how such ethical and political issues arise, hence how they might be understood, and addressed today. The AESOP Prague Congress also provides an opportunity for researchers in planning to think about the implications for their work of the changes in governance and planning which have been both a spur for, and object of, their academic work. In large measure, these derive from a perennial set of ethical issues surrounding research which seeks to inform public policy. There are ethical challenges which are distinctive of the kind of research which at least some planning researchers undertake, in contexts of social tension and/or conflict, sometimes associated with clear oppression and injustice. These circumstances are only more extreme versions of the challenge to any planning scholar, because the definition and use of space is bound up with social justice in the broadest sense, and the way power – and governmental responsibility – is exercised in society. Consequently, one of the purposes of the Congress is to explore ways of thinking about planning which considers the social context of ethical perception and public political behaviour. By doing this, we hope to shift the emphasis of discussion from individual and/or occasional probity to those circumstances that help planners and public officials develop and use sound ethical judgement: in public life, in society, in our cities as well as in our schools. Although the moral landscape within which planning is undertaken is not an easy one to read or traverse, the Conference debate and contributions will certainly identify significant planning issues which can constitute part of an agenda for discussion among researchers and policy-makers. Due to the excellent and terrific work of the Prague Local Organizing Committee, the AESOP Congress 2015 is providing the best environment for all this, and I wish a fruitful and intellectually attractive experience to all the participants! Francesco Lo Piccolo
  • PublicationOpen Access
    Meeting the Challenge of Public Responsibility: Planning as Institutional Design
    (AESOP, 2015) Alexander, E. R.
    “Planning must critically reconsider… the issue of repositioning the public responsibility” our Track chairs said. This can be understood in several ways. One is as responsibility to publics, i.e. accountability, which involves public values. Another is as responsibility of the public, raising structural issues. A useful approach for addressing these is institutional design (ID). What is ID, who does it and where, are answered and reviewed. How ID is done involves knowledge and methods. Public values and their relationship to ID are explored. Here "repositioning" means prioritizing accountability vs. other values e.g. efficiency or equity. Concrete implications are developed in discussion of public value promotion and conflict. Public responsibility in the structural sense conventionally refers to the public sector: state and government. Here "repositioning" means sharing responsibility with others: private actors and the market, NGOs and civil society. ID explores repositioning alternatives of non-traditional forms of governance and service delivery: public-private partnerships, outsourcing and privatization. Selected cases show relevant ID applications; for institutions effectuating public values and as arenas to mediate value conflicts: EU institutions, metro-regional planning in New York and Queensland, and military base closing in the USA; to reposition and share public responsibility: New Towns and planned communities in Britain and the USA, groundwater conservation in Apulia. The discussion and cases show how ID can help planners to effectively reposition public responsibility. Keywords: planning, institutional design, public responsibility
  • PublicationOpen Access
    Reevaluating the analytical power of regime theory
    (AESOP, 2015) Akkila, Ilona
    How is urban space produced? Planners, politicians, building companies, real estate owners, investors, entrepreneurs and citizens are all entangled in the process, but the challenge is how to describe this complex, multi-actor process? Urban politics is a spatially and temporally bound process between the actors involved. There is no single institution or actor which explains the local political process; rather, there are several, dissonant actors cooperating on emerging agendas. The construction of power between them depends on the agenda, the composition of actors and their relations. To understand these intricate courses of action, I suggest the application of a case-sensitive urban regime analysis. Whilst regime theory is based on the context of North American cities in the 1980s and 1990s, it still offers an insightful analytical tool to investigate urban politics. Urban regime theory enables the examination of politics from the inside, rather than outside, similar to urban governance theory. Although urban regime theory has been accused of ethnocentrism, I believe it is suitable for research in European or even Nordic cities if one is sensitive to the legal, economic and political differences amongst different countries. I will illustrate this by presenting a case study I have conducted in Finland the city of Lahti. My aim has been to re-evaluate the analytical explanation power of regime theory in today´s Nordic city. Keywords: urban regime theory, city center, urban renewal
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