Planning’s ‘failure’ to ensure efficient market delivery: a lacanian deconstruction of this neo-liberal scapegoating fantasy

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Our contemporary neo-liberal governance model often places a heavy burden on planning to take the ‘responsibility’ for the failure of market-lead governance to successfully deliver its policy promises of betterment, security and, consequently, future enjoyment. These include promised, but often unachievable policies, such as those of increased global competitiveness even for areas of structural economic and population decline; or housing affordability in areas of significant population growth and constrained land availability. Resultant policy failures then tend to result in a scapegoating response where planning is held responsible. Examples include that economic development, or housing affordability, is directly obstructed as a consequence of planning impediments, such as unnecessary regulatory controls or process delays. All of which are claimed to hamper efficient market delivery, hence ‘planning’ is to blame. To deconstruct this neo-liberal fantasy that planning often impedes, or fails, in its responsibility to ensure policies for market-lead success, the paper will first document several exemplars of this scapegoating process. It will then briefly explore the role of fantasy and ideology in governance policy formulation and, from a Lacanian perspective, the theorisation that underlies this process. Having laid the necessary foundation, it will then investigating the role of the ‘scapegoat’ in ideological fantasy formation for public policy facilitation so as to explain why planning is often placed in this role, and why this role is often ideologically necessary, at least for neo-liberal governance, when planning undertaking its statutory responsibility of facilitating the public interest.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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